I was driving down a country road the other day, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. In the distance, I watched the driver of the vehicle throw something out the window of the car. I didn’t know what it was, but from my perspective a ways back, I had a fairly good idea. As the car and driver continued ahead of me down the road, I approached the contents on the ground which had been thrown out of the vehicle. I was right.
Scattered all across the pavement was a large McDonald’s bag, plus all the papers and boxes and containers that had previously held (I’m assuming now) the lunch of the driver and whoever else was in the vehicle. No kidding — two paper glasses, French fry containers, wadded up sandwich papers, a Happy Meal container and a host of napkins that were now blowing across the road and into a farmer’s field.
Unfortunately, the aforementioned scenario happens all the time, however, I usually don’t witness it first-hand. In my travels around the county, I see roadsides littered with a ton of trash, and it always disturbs me. Why people think they can just throw garbage out their vehicle windows is beyond me. Aside from the important fact that littering is illegal, I just don’t understand why and how people can do that.
Fast forward about a week, I was sitting on my front porch in Sheffield early one Saturday morning. It’s a favorite place of mine. Not only is it quiet and serene, it’s a great way to gear up for the day with a cup of coffee and some time to think, reflect and plan. It’s my little piece of paradise, plain and simple.
I see a lot of folks walk by my home — some are jogging, walking their dogs or just enjoying a leisurely stroll. But the fellow who happened by that Saturday morning really caught my attention. In his hand he carried a plastic bag that was fairly full, and as he walked down the street, I watched him as he occasionally stopped and picked up a piece of trash — a stray piece of paper, a can someone had thrown out, etc. I’m not sure what was in his bag, but it was bulging.
A good soul. A good Samaritan. I watched the guy bend over countless times to pick up this and that and deposit it in his bag. He reminded me of our dear friend Katie Hewitt (God rest her soul), who always walked by our home carrying some throw-away treasures — a bottle or can or some other piece of trash she had found on her walks through Sheffield.
With the fellow well on his way and out of sight, I couldn’t help but compare the fellow tossing fast food trash out his window and this fellow who was picking up someone else’s trash ... just because it was just the right thing to do.
In the perfect world, we would train people to refrain from throwing their trash out the windows of their vehicles, but I don’t think that is going to happen. I don’t think those folks are trainable. On the other hand, there’s something rather humbling about being the person who stops to pick up some trash on the ground to help keep our world a little cleaner, a little prettier, a little nicer.
I don’t know about you, but I’m ashamed to admit how many times I’ve walked by something on the ground that really just needed to be picked up and thrown in the garbage can. I mean really! How hard could that be? Shame on me.
This isn’t about good manners or what we were taught when we were young. This is about caring for our towns, our countryside, our earth — ultimately each other. When somebody throws something out their car window, just who do they think is going to pick it up? I’m sure that doesn’t even enter their minds.
I want to be better about keeping my world clean. Maybe you’ll join me. Who knows what a difference we all might make!
BCR Editor Terri Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.