Monday, July 28, 2008

Who You Gonna Channel Today?

I scoop my dog’s poop, and because I have poop bags readily available, I also scoop the trash people with poor home-training throw out in my neighborhood. For some reason I’m not bothered by the napkins and fast-food cups, but I do wonder about the folks who pitch the litter and why their mommas didn’t teach them better.

One day I took the dogs out to pee and saw a red car U-turning in front of my house while its passenger was busy ditching drive-through garbage out the window. I yelled out in exasperation, “Guys, don’t throw your trash out here. We don’t do that in this …….” I bit off the word “neighborhood” because I realized I was yelling at a black kid. Our little town is still fairly segregated, so I knew I sounded like I, the old white woman, was pointing out a great racial divide in public behavior, which was not my intention. I was merely intending to let these people know folks don’t do that in town.

The car straightened out in the road and stopped. The black kid looked out his window, then opened the door. I thought of all the horror stories in our local paper, the drive-by shootings, the kids killed at four-way stops. All of this was just a jumble when this kid sprung out of his car. Instead of lunging at me, he headed for the burger wrappers and the French fry box.

“You don’t have to do that,” I said. I had just wanted them to know not to do it again. “I would have picked it up.”

“She threw it out…I can pick it up,” he said, sliding back into his car with the trash. “No problem.”

I thought at his age I would have been embarrassed and thus angry if I had been reprimanded by some old woman yelling, and I might have considered bringing back some real trash, just to show her.

But that kid—he’s another one of those chance encounters I’ll remember forever. I knew I had become a trifle obsessive about litter, but somebody had taught that kid right. While I was channeling Lady Bird Johnson during her Beautify America stage, he was channeling Gandhi.

4 comments:

Keetha said...

That gave me cold chills. That is one of those encounters to remember.

Mental P Mama said...

I don't think littering is a trifling thing. It galls me no end. Good for you for calling them on it. Maybe they will think twice before doing it again. I did the same thing a few years ago. I yelled at a kid dumping his McDonald's bag at the end of my driveway. It was dark. I couldn't see, but it was a neighbor's son. He picked it up. And his mother called to apologize the next day!

Silver Solo said...

Everywhere it’s all around
Comfort in a crowd
Strangers faces all around
Laughin’ right out loud
Hey watch where your goin’
Step light on old toes
’Cause until you’ve been beside a man
You don’t know who he knows

Nicole said...

I'm with Keetha...only I got goosebumps with mine.

How lovely!