Let’s talk trash
I held off on writing about this topic for a while out of concern that this had become nothing more than yet another personal pet peeve. You’ve already been kind enough to listen to me talk about the initial greeting waitresses give. And I’ve been gratified that whatever association of waitresses exists hasn’t come knocking at my door to demand higher tips.
What more could a columnist ask?
However, I’ve been noticing something lately. And the more I notice it, well, the more I notice it.
I’m talking trash.
Lean on in. Let’s talk trash together.
I’m not talking about landfill trash. Landfill trash has lived its useful life and someone arranged for its decent burial.
No, I’m talking about the kind of trash that someone ejects from a moving vehicle.
How does this happen? Does someone drive down the road—let’s call him Dave–, suddenly notice that they’ve finished their French fries, look across the car at their loved one—let’s call her Marge–and say, “Marge, what should I do?’
Marge, nose-deep in her Big Mac, is paying him scant attention. After Dave—by now a little irritated at Marge for paying him no mind, and without realizing that this is not just a moment but how she lives her life–repeats the question. After she politely finishes munching, she asks for clarification: “What should you do with what?”
“What do you mean, ‘with what’? With my container. I’ve finished my fries! What should I do with it?”
Marge then turns her whole attention up the road, peers carefully, and puts all of her creative focus to work on finding not only a solution, and not just a good solution, but to finding the perfect solution.
“Dave, hand me your trash. Quick!
Dave, being a man of quick wits and intellectual complexity responds, “Huh?”
Marge, being a woman of infinite patience to match her keen eyes, fairly shouts, “NOW! Hand me your trash NOW!”
Dave, being a man with a keen sense of self-preservation, hands over his trash.
Marge throws all caution to the wind. Taking no notice at all that rolling down the window could destroy the fine work she put into making her hair fit for civil society—all11.25 seconds of hard work—she rolls down her window and with an arm that would have made proud the pitching staff of the 1995 Atlanta Braves, slings Dave’s cardboard carton out the window.
She looks back at Dave, but by now she has a glow about her, a testament to her civic pride.
“Dave, ride around the block,” she asks, as she grabs his arm, gives it a tight squeeze accompanied by an imploring smile
“Why should I do that, Marge? We’ll be late buying our cigarettes and lottery tickets!”
“Oh Dave, just do it! I’ve just got to see!”
Dave does. And just as they drive back by the same area, Marge shouts, “Slow down or you’ll miss it!”
They slow their car to a crawl, ignoring the irritated pick-up trucks behind them that are filled with people they are making late for work.
As they drive by, Marge takes out her camera and snaps a photo.
“Dave, we made the world a better place today.”
Dave is confused, and not for the first time today, and not even for the first time this hour.
“What did we do, Marge?”
“You poor man. Didn’t you notice? Your French fries box. When I threw it out of the window, it landed perfectly alongside those blooming narcissuses.”
“So what? I’ll tell you so what? If we hadn’t come along today and thrown out that carton, all passersby would see would be those white narcissus plants. How dull! See how much better it looks with the carton? Quick, hand me the bag so I can throw it out, too. The red in the bad will highlight the narcissuses.”
Drive up and down our roads. Marge and Dave—and their friends, family, and people who just admire them—are doing an excellent job of decorating our roads. And thank goodness we are allowing their decorations to live there, day after day, week after week, month after month, for all of us to enjoy.
Does anyone have a civic award we can give them? If you do, contact me and I can put you in touch with Marge and Dave. Or I can just tell you where they live. They are the house down the corner with the ’69 Volkswagen bus with four flat tires and vines climbing in and out of its shattered windows.
They make every place they go to a better place.