Here and There

Friday, August 03, 2007

Pick up your bones!

Often at lunchtime, people working in our neighborhood come sit in their cars and eat. I always used to think this was kind of sad. It always seemed kind of lonely for those folks.

Yesterday, at lunchtime, we were sitting on the beige couch, and I saw a man pull up and park across the street. He had a little white truck with a ladder tied to the camper shell. I figured he was working in the neighborhood and found a quiet place to eat his lunch. I was right. He got out and pulled huge blue cooler from the back- not a lunchtime cooler that looks like a mini-version of a big cooler, this was a cooler that most families pack entire picnics in. I kind of laughed and watched him get settled: he turned on the radio, he rolled down his window, he got out a newspaper and he locked his door. (I thought that part was kind of weird)

I was watching TV and out of the corner of my eye I saw something that always catches my eye, that little flick of the wrist and arc through the air of a litterbug. Oh no. He threw something out the window. Maybe it was an applecore. That's okay, an applecore is okay...sort of, not really. But it looked like a bone. "Was that a chicken bone?" I asked Peter. We both watched this guy eating something off a bone and throw another bone out the window. The way he was nibbling it and holding it looked more like a rib to me. Sure enough the guy ate 6 ribs and threw all his bones out his truck window. Then he proceeded to drink out of whatever tupperware his ribs came in (was it rib juice?) and wipe his face, put his cooler away and leave.

Meat bones aren't good lying around on the street, cats and rats and other creatures will find them, they don't just "go away". The whole time the guy was there we talked about what to do. Peter said he would go pick up the bones while the guy was still there in the truck and I said I would just shout from the doorway "Can you pick up your bones?" but Peter's idea was better. When he saw the guy start to leave, he walked out with a plastic bag to pick up the ribs as the guy started his 3-point turn to leave. I'm pretty sure the guy saw him. I hope he saw him picking up the ribs in his rearview mirror.

There have been many times when I have witnessed littering and said something to the litterbug, and many times when I've said nothing, but picked up the litter, and many times when I've not had the chance to do either, most often while driving. It's a weird thing because if you say something, it really shames the person. Rightfully so, but it's awkward. Even if you want to just gently remind, it comes off as shaming. I think the reason this is so is because if you don't litter, you simply don't litter. You never forget and accidentally litter, you just don't drop your crap on the ground. So if you see someone litter, you're challenging them on something they have chosen to do, their personal code of garbage disposal.

I wish I had a foolproof phrase or technique for when I witness someone litter, but I don't. I saw a bumper sticker once that said "Litter bugs me". That was fun, but that doesn't really cover it when you see someone drop their picked clean ribs in front of your home. You want to say "Pick up your bones!" Is that okay?

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