Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Exterminating the litterbug

I can remember the last time I intentionally littered. I was 16 years old, and had just visited a fast food joint with some buddies. After finishing the burgers, I noticed the guys throwing their garbage on the floor of my car. I quickly told them to clean up their trash, which was followed by defiant laughter. I pushed the issue, and they said that the only other place to put it was outside. A few of them threw their trash out the window while I was driving, and to be as "cool" as them, I followed their lead.

I may have littered previous in my life, but I don't remember it. I definitely remember this time. I felt awful. We had literally piled a dozen burger wrappers and our drink cups on the side of the road.

I felt so bad, that I later returned to the scene of the crime to clean up the mess.

Since this time, I try very hard to clean up after myself. Don't misunderstand me...I'm not thinking about joining Greenpeace, or giving money to do away with landfills. I drink bottled water, receive about 78 plastic bags every trip to Walmart, and flush all my condoms.

I live in a blue-collar Podunk town in Idaho. And unfortunately, our city is dirty. Trash in the streets, trash in many yards, and trash in the fields. The car wash I frequent had an old washer and dryer lying in the adjacent gully for months. You'd think that someone would have strapped them to the roof of their Cutlass Supreme as the "wanted" section of our local Craigslist is the largest of all the sections.
Perusing Craigslist the other day, I noticed that someone had asked for a free car. They didn't want a piece of crap, as the the ad stated that they "needed something newer than a 2002, so that they didn't have to do any repairs." They also mentioned that they were "short on cash, but could trade vacuuming and bathroom cleaning" for the car. I didn't respond, as I need my car, and I especially didn't want someone to clean up my pubic hair.

The other night, my family visited a local eating establishment. My son (4 years old) came out with me a couple minutes before the rest of the crew were finished as I needed some fresh air.
His attention was quickly turned to a hubcap that was lying on a grass berm. He went over and tossed it around, despite my 16 requests to come to the car. I used angry tone, nice tone, loud voice, patient voice, but no dice. Somehow he didn't see me as a threat as I never got up from the drivers seat.

The wife came out with the rest of the crew, and he saw that he would be left at the Taco Time unless he got in the car. As he ran to the car, his eyes instantly turned to an empty beer bottle in the parking lot. As boys are prone to do, he picked up the bottle and gave his best impression of Ichiro. Unfortunately, as he pulled his arm back to make the toss, the open end of the bottle was pointed down, and the contents of the bottle emptied onto his head and clothes.

He turned to me wondering why it looked like he'd just been freed from the Matrix. The gooey sludge that covered his head was unbelievably disgusting.

My kids have done some pretty disgusting things, and put some pretty gross things in their mouth.
It wouldn't be stretching the truth to say that my kids have had any/all of the following in their mouth:

Toilet water.
Dog food.
Toilet water turned yellow.
Human fecal matter.

But the gut-wrenching smell that emanated from my son, topped all disgusting experiences to date.

As he approached, the tell-tale smell of mint snuff permeated the air. son had poured tobacco spit on himself. If he was 18, he could probably have filmed it with his shirt off and made some money.

As we rode home with the windows down, and a naked kid in the car seat, my resolution to never intentionally litter was cemented.

So, the next time you feel the need to leave a Mt. dew bomb, used needle, or an old retainer in a parking lot....think again. My 4 year old will find it, and I will hunt you down like Liam Neeson in "Taken."


Alex L said...

Yeah I don't see why people litter, I don't know about America but here there is never a bin that far away.

My word verification is whorses. Why do yours always resemble real words

Marlene Affeld said...

Thank you for your post - I am always heartened when I find someone that focuses on environmental awareness. Some people are such slobs - we both live in a beautiful part of the country - I am angry when people trash it. Read more of my rant at:

Wishing you the best.

Gary ("Old Dude") said...

It is a modern day fact that a large number of people actually make a living out of picking up all those bottles, and cans and run-a-way hubcaps, and taking them to the recycling centers----would you deprive them of their living? (lol)

Anonymous said...

Good grief that's gross. Poor kid, that'll learn'em.

Stephanie said...


Jenn Thorson said...

Oh boy-- so HOW many times did you guys have to run that kid's clothes through the washing machine?

Snuff... the perfect hair conditioner.

Matt said...

Alex--Whorses is a term describing the oldest profession for horses here in the US.

Marlene--Don't get me wrong...complete slob here. I'm just a cleaner slob than most.

Gary--I have not seen these people around...and neither has the trash.

TNO--here here


Jenn--You're assuming the clothes haven't been burned.

Goddess said...

I'm a die-hard anti-litterer, too, but I guarantee if I saw that sign, I'd be cleaning out my car along the side of the road (and my car's a frickin' mess!)

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