Wednesday, July 6, 2011

litter bug

Today I walked to my dad's office (from my office 6 blocks away) to pick up his car to drive home since he went out of town on business.

That is too much information.

The important part is that I walked 6 blocks, strolling over a bridge and past a few homeless men sleeping under some trees.  In doing so, I encountered the usual debris that you find on the side of the road: empty bottles and cans, plastic grocery bags, spoons, towels and articles of clothing that have been soaked by the rain and dried into misshapen slabs of shirt-brick.

I don't know or understand the mindset behind littering.  Is it really "Oh, I am done using this piece of garbage/spork/Haynes t-shirt, so I may as well drop it where I stand instead of finding an appropriate trash or recycling receptacle in which to deposit it."
Maybe it's "I bet I can make it into that trashcan from here! [pause] Oh well."
Or "AHHHH I am being chased by a vagrant/thug/angry mother bear! I must empty my arms of all this trash so that I can run away to safety unencumbered!"

One of my fears is littering that happens by accident.

Say you are in the middle of a six hour road trip.  You recently stopped for lunch, but haven't stopped at a gas station since, so Happy Meal bags litter the floor with their junk food brethren: empty pretzel bag and Ziploc baggies once filled with cereal.
Suddenly the mood strikes you, and you realize what a beautiful day it is and decide to roll down the window when ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE and your bags whip around in a junk food tornado, and just as you are cursing your bad food decisions and promising yourself that on your next trip you will bring PB&Js from home and maybe some carrot sticks or grapes if you have them and they're not too sour or some hummus if you can find those pita chips from the party two weeks ago, the tornado of trash finds it's exit out a tiny gap in the window you are rushing to close and zips out of site to fly haphazardly between several lanes of traffic.
The next thing you know you are getting pulled over by highway patrol and assigned a $5,000 fine in a state you would never even want to live in, let alone pay 5K to.

This is my night mare.

Top 5 Most Disconcerting Pieces of Highway Trash:
  1. Scrubs - you know, doctor pajamas.  Why these would end up on the side of the road baffles me.  Best Case Scenario: a new father wears them in the Delivery Room and tears them off in a fit of joy at the birth of his son, opens the window, and tosses them out to drift to the street below.  Worst Case Scenario: sloppy murderer.
  2. Gloves - not gardening gloves, which belong outside, but medical latex gloves. BCS: a volunteer doctor uses them while testing a homeless man for AIDS or the flu or something, and snaps them off and drops them to the ground, accustomed to the OR where dropping latex gloves is common practice.  WCS: sloppy murderer. (clearly clean enough to use gloves/scrubs, but not enough to think to burn them instead of flinging evidence around. Unless he/she wants to get it's a game. oh damn)
  3. Trash bags - opaque black trash bags, in particular.  My mother implanted the horrifying thought that there might be a baby in that bag on the side of the highway.  A poor defenseless baby its parents didn't want. BCS: the trash bag tumbles out of the back of a pick-up truck as it gains speed. WCS: Abandoned baby.
  4. Needles - maybe you've never encountered a syringe outside the doctor's office, but I have, and let me tell you it is not pleasant. BCS: drugs. WCS: drugs.
  5. Underwear - somehow I always see t-shirts or underwear on the side of the road. This happens too often to be allowed.  BCS: a seven year old rushes to keep up with his mom as they walk to Centennial Olympic Park to play in the fountains. In his dash to catch up to her, his underwear falls out of the pile of dry clothes he is holding and lands, dejected, on the sidewalk. WCS: rape.

So, you just learned a lot about how my brain works! Yay!

...I'm sorry.


  1. Semi-Demi-God Jake DierksheideJuly 6, 2011 at 6:24 PM

    This might be my new favorite

  2. "My mother implanted the horrifying thought that there might be a baby in that bag on the side of the highway" I think this idea came from a shockingly grim children's book, but I always wonder if there are abandoned puppies in cardboard boxes along the side of the road. It's a terrible way to live.

  3. If you don't write a memoir at some point in your life, I will be disappointed. Or at least write for some witty online publication.