I was grumbling, mumbling and engaging in other less polite expressions of anger one morning while doing my civic duty at highway pickup and feeling very proud of myself. I literally cleaned with a vengeance. “Why couldn’t those slobs hang onto their crummy detritus until they get home and then throw it in the trash?” I kept asking the hot sun, who had no sympathy for me and my virtuous sweat. Every time I picked up a Styrofoam cup I imagined a lazy woman, too lazy to cook her kids a decent meal, telling them “Just throw it out,” when they finished their Pepsi. I shuddered at the sight of beer cans, picturing drunks behind the wheel. Plastic Winn-Dixie bags reminded me that most shoppers are ignorant that oil, precious oil, is used to manufacture plastic.
I stretched my back, turned and took note of the abandoned strip mall across the highway from the Woman’s Club. Roof and siding flapped in the breeze, weeds pushed through cracks in the asphalt parking lot, doors hung loose inviting teens to the party. The county didn’t provide highway pickup volunteers with trash bags big enough for that piece of litter. But it had granted a tax abatement to the developer years earlier as an incentive to build that oversized piece of litter.
Why should the poor, tired folks who have to look at the eye-sore every day as they drive home from work give a second thought to tossing a beer can or burger box? After all, the people we are taught to admire, the people with money, do it, big time.