I got to go to college for two reasons:
- I studied, volunteered and networked my ass off
- I graduated from a small-town public high school with an extraordinary number of local scholarships
One of the local organizations that helped put me through school did so by running a number of meat raffles at the local V.F.W. to rally support for their scholarship fund.
In case you’ve never partaken – here’s the basic outline of a meat raffle:
The organization negotiates with a local, wholesale meat distributor, advertises about the raffle, and then on the day of, they run anywhere between seven to nine tables. Each table is set up with an array of cuts – from expensive racks of prime rib, to whole hams and turkeys, to 15lbs boxes of bacon, to double packs of chicken breasts. Those who wish to try their luck at taking home a prime (or any other) cut, buy strips of tickets – anywhere from $1-$10. Once all of the tickets are sold for each table, tickets are then pulled and if your number comes up, you get to take your pick.
At this particular meat raffle, there’s also ALWAYS a lobster table. A table FULL of 10+ pound lobsters.
Since graduating, I try to make it back home for at least one of the four meat raffles that this volunteer organization puts on. Yesterday, happened to be this year’s kick-off, and my son and I decided to make the drive up to New Hampshire to visit my parents and make our annual contribution.
The highlight of the trip was seeing some good friends that I grew up with, having our kids get along for a few hours, and winning some chicken on the very first table (also, the only table we won from).
The low-point of the trip was hearing a sudden and painful crash from the table across from us. I looked over – confused – because no one was actually sitting at the table and I couldn’t see anything tipped over. Then, I looked down and saw the lobster.
This particular lobster (still alive) had been put in a plastic shopping bag and left under the table while his (her) winner ventured to the bar for another beer. I noticed the lobster was now fully on his back – claws (double wrapped in black duct tape and industrial strength rubber bands) out – and tail desperately trying to break free from that plastic sack.
The crash had been that thick, hard shell smacking against that cold, hard floor.
Putting it all together made me feel sick and heavy.
“It was the lobster,” I said out loud.
“What?” my Mom asked.
“Look, under that table. The lobster flipped over – trying to get free. Jesus, just to lay on the cool floor of the V.F.W. before being brought to a painful, scalding death. Legit – the linoleum is now as good as it’s ever going to get.”
I’m not vegan or vegetarian. Currently, the majority of protein in my diet comes from seafood and eggs. I was raised on game hunted in our own woods. I received thousands of dollars over the course of my higher education from functions just like this one, and have contributed hundreds back over the years.
And still, seeing/hearing this lobster…trapped and struggling…made me feel sicker and heavier.
I can’t help thinking that even when our intentions are good (like: let’s do something to help more kids from our community go to college), the way in which we realize our intentions through our actions, needs to be equally as good – for all.
What we intend and how we act requires reflection – and evolution – and even some, goodification.
Because – for me – it just doesn’t feel like enough to simply be grateful that on this go-round, I wasn’t the lobster.