Monday, July 11, 2016

Littering

Something that continues to surprise me when I see it happening: someone littering.  It always shocks me.  I guess I think of it as something children do that we eventually stop doing as adults because we know better.  And that's why it's so shocking - adults are the ones doing it.

When I see littering happen, I always audibly gasp.  I can't help it.  I feel like that 70's Keep America Beautiful commercial that showed the Native American chief on a hill strewn with litter and as he slowly turns to face the camera during a smog-ridden sunset, one solitary tear is streaming down his face.  Man, that was a good commercial!  Forty years later and I still remember it.  The interesting thing about that commercial was that the Native American was actually a Sicilian-born actor who changed his name to Iron Eyes Cody.   I guess he was a kind of a latter-day Rachel Dolezal.  Yet another wide-eyed childhood belief shattered to pieces.

I've always thought of tossing a lit cigarette as littering (and worse!) and even THAT surprises me when I see someone do it.  But hurling trash out of a car window is inexcusable.  I can be driving down the highway or a city street or a country road and then suddenly trash will fly from the windows of the automobile in front of me.  Or I could be walking down the street and someone ahead of me will just drop a gum wrapper or throw a receipt on the ground and just keep walking without missing a beat.  What gets me is that the act is so blatant.  It's as if the litterer believes that what he or she is doing is actually okay.

If I am driving and I see it, I blow my horn.  This serves the dual purpose of allowing me to vent my frustration as well as signal to the driver that, "yeah, that's right - I saw what you did."  And if I am walking and see it, I'll sometimes call after the person, "Excuse me you dropped something."  Sometimes they take it back but most of the time they ignore me.

When I see things like this occur, my mind immediately plays that scene in Steel Magnolias:
Truvy: Well, these thighs haven't gone out of the house without lycra on them since I was 14.
Clairee: You were brought up right.

And then I wonder if it really is just that simple?  Does it all just come down to the fact that my parents corrected that behavior in me as a child or at least taught me some responsibility, not to mention what it is to respect yourself and those around you?  Because that's all littering is - a complete disrespect of yourself and those around you.

Littering is a completely selfish act.  And in a time when the world is already full of selfies, overblown egos, and an entitled generation, the last thing we need is discarded trash piling up on top of it all.