Sometimes, I Do Really Stupid Things

The other day, on my way to work, I was crossing under the BQE heading up to the Graham Avenue L stop to catch the subway. I had just passed under the highway and was crossing the street directly next to the off-ramp when a vanload of men pulled up to the stoplight. I thought nothing of them at first.

In the time it took me to walk five more steps, I heard the van door open and what sounded like something plastic being kicked out onto the street. I turned around to see what the sound was and that’s when I saw the driver dumping his (and every other passenger’s) trash onto the street below, onto MY neighborhood’s street below.

Before I could even think, my head filled with raw amazement, sadness, and then anger. I stood there, staring at them in horror. I can’t be sure of how I looked, but I’m pretty sure my mouth was open. The driver made eye contact with me as he pushed a few more plastic containers onto the street. Then, I got pissed.

You’re a jackass. You’re a total shithead.

I said to them directly. I picked up my phone to make a call. Quickly, I memorized their license plate. I wasn’t sure WHO to call or WHAT to say for that matter, but I had to call someone. So I called Toby.

About 7 years ago, my mother was driving me (and all of my stuff) back down to Washington, D.C. where I would begin a new career. We were on 322 at the time heading towards Harrisburg where we’d hit 15 South and drive into Maryland. Along that part of 322, one drives along some of the most beautiful mountain roads that making up Pennsylvania. Sometimes, there are streams out both sides of the car. It’s absolutely beautiful up there. That road alone can make trips to and from State College much more enjoyable than most road trips. There were nights and days I would pull over along the Susquehanna River and just stand there in awe of her. And the stretch of land between Harrisburg and Lewistown was given the name “Firefly Snowglobe” as Toby Joe and I rediscovered lightning bugs after our city dwelling for so many years.

My mother and I were talking non-stop, probably laughing about something one of us did when we were kids. Suddenly, the passenger in the van in front of us rolled down his or her window and dropped a slew of white paper onto the street below. It hit the air like dirty snow. It broke my heart a little bit.

Well, he or she couldn’t get away with this. So we wrote down the license plate number and stopped to make a few phone calls. Surely, there was someone to cal. Surely, there was something we could do. And there was. We phoned a local Litterbug Control number and turned them in. We gave the make and color of the car as well as the license plate number. The Litter Control agency would take are of the rest. I felt a little better. Hopefully, it wouldn’t piss them off making them litter more. Hopefully, they would understand how sad it was. I will never forget that day. Ever.

Toby, can you write down a number for me?

Toby was still at home getting ready for work. He arrives an hour later than I do most days.

Sure, let me grab a pen.

It’s 11603-JA. Email it to me.

As I’m saying the numbers to him, I notice the van out of the corner of my eye. They were following me, slowly.

HEY! HEY!! HEY YOU! C’mere you!

It was at that moment I realized how dumb I had been. What if they had a gun? People were shot for less an offense. After all, I called them all shitheads. I began to walk faster. I had hung up with Toby and crossed the street towards the bus stop. And that’s when they turned onto a side street. Perhaps, it was too early to fight with a girl.

Last night, Toby lightly scolded me on acting this way. And I meant it when I told him that I didn’t even THINK about my reaction, it really did just happen. Normally, I don’t act this way, I can assure you. But something hit a nerve and the SANE, SAFE, SOUND I apparently couldn’t stop the not so sane ME from verbally attacking THEM for their sloppiness. And even after I somewhat lost myself, all I could think was shame on them. I lay shame on them for acting that way. Shame on them. And shame on me for my behavior. I lay shame on me for my outburst. Shame on me for not knowing what to do with their license plate number.

24 Comments

  1. I have no problem with shooting people like that on site.

    An observation: you will never find Clif Bar or organic snack food wrappers as litter. Discuss.

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  2. that’s just ‘cause organic vegan hippies eat their trash.

    you know, for roughage.

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  3. Oh, calvo, how I missed you. (We talked about you last night. We decided you should enter half Iron Man and work your way up to Iron Man.
    Now, regarding the topic at hand, I need more time to think about it. But I have to say, I can’t recall ever seeing trash of this nature (generally speaking). It’s usually McDonald’s bags, popsicle wrappers, etc. Oh, and cigarette packs and cigarettes and batteries (if you’re a New Yorker.) Oh, and gum—perhaps my biggest pet peeve of all. I FREAKING HATE GUM!

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  4. please don’t get shot.

    I hear ya though. my neck of the woods is all about litter. i don’t get it.

    on a smaller littering scale, just the other day I was enraged by this woman who threw her snotty kleenex in someone’s flowerbox. I wanted to say something but fear of a bitchslap stopped me.

    the other choice activity is throwing trash down the sewer grates and then being pissed when the streets flood.

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  5. Yep. As Lou Reed once wrote:
    “Americans don

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  6. My dad’s always picking up litter in his walk around our neighbourhood … except it’s mostly pop bottles and he collects them, gets the money, and buys donuts. No shooting.

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  7. Lana, that’s a great story.

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  8. i, have reacted to litter in a semi-risky way. more than once i’ve seen someone litter (most recently a cab driver) and i’ve picked up their garbage and handed it back to them and said, “i think you dropped something.” they don’t like that.

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  9. Another great story!

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  10. Oh my, I totally forgot. One time, back in college, someone left their trash from film developing on the hub lawn. So I picked it up—all of it, and mailed it to her. :] I also sent her a note saying the next time she chooses to litter, best not to leave her full name and phone number on said litter.

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  11. Oh man, people are dumping trash on our corner too! Whats up with that? Unfortunately, our dumpers are stelth, or we’d be fighting them.

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  12. I’ll send Calvo over right away, he’s training to become the next Iron Man.

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  13. I like that last comment.
    I knew a couple in Atlanta that told me one time when they were out driving somewhere and the person in the car ahead of them threw something out the window while they were stopped at a light. Dan promptly got out of his car and handed it to them saying, I don’t what they do where you are from but here in Atlanta, we don’t litter!
    If only I had the same guts. I have seen that happen so many times here in SF. I have been too chicken to do something about it.

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  14. Wait, people actually DO litter in San Francisco? I AM SHOCKED! Are there ever Clif Bar wrappers among bay area trash?

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  15. I have the exact same thing happening in my hood. There are numerous take out places and I watch as the people finish their food and toss the garbage right on the sidewalk…

    For fear of gun…I remain silent but I push 1000 needles into my mental voodoo doll.

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  16. i am not an organic vegan hippy and i do not litter. >:|

    the words you said to those guys, cracked me up. really really dangerous. but really cute. bad mihow.

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  17. Its not litter in front of our house, its GARBAGE! Like chairs, mattresses, boxes of boxes, boxes of paper, boxes of trash. And not to mention the compost bin that no one’s picked up thats sitting around. grrrr

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  18. Where on earth do you live, Detroit?

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  19. in between the Mission and Castro, just north of your old place.

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  20. No trash here, just random violence. Vu and I were riding our bikes home the other night, and at an intersection some man got out of his car and punched Vu in the face!!! Sucker punch too. Vu is pleased that he can take a punch and amused that I called him my “boyfriend” in the call to the police. I simply screamed “WHAT THE FUCK!!!!!” How bout that for random fucking assholes?

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  21. I understand your reaction, just be careful little Mihow. You have a big heart, but my guess is those guys don’t.

    You rock.

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  22. Sian, that is the MOST fucked up thing I have heard in a long long time. You poor thing. :[

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  23. Similar thing happened to me- but more road rage than litter rage. A guy drove on the wrong side of the road to push in at traffic, & my friend jumped out and got his licence number. Seeing her do it, the guy then pulled over, waited for us to pass, then tailed us halfway to work. And took my photo with his camera phone. I called the police, and the response I got was “We’ll note it in case anything happens.” Well, that’s reassuring! I think sneaky dobbing is now the way to go- people who show so little respect for others probably won’t react reasonbly to you pointing out their rather fcked up behaviour. But it’s very frustrating – a big part of me wants to tell them they’re dickheads!

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  24. Sometimes I want to pull a Garp and chase the speeders and dildos who drive through stop signs in my neighborhood. Fortunately, they don’t litter.

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