Afraid to act

Saturday afternoon. Sitting in my living room. Watching TV. Movement on the street catches my eye.

A car had stopped in front of our house. A second then pulled up behind. This is not unusual. The streets don’t line up straight in our neighborhood, and we figure that’s why we get a lot of stopped cars and turnarounds, folks having gone where they didn’t intend.

These cars were facing so that the driver’s side was toward the street. They both had tinted windows, thus I couldn’t see who was inside.

To my amazement, the following happened: from the driver’s window of the first car, a large, plastic soda cup came flying over the car’s hood and trunk and into our ditch.

Within seconds, out came another cup. This one hit the hood of the rear car, bouncing off to land next to the first cup.

The cars remained in place.

My immediate thought was to walk out and talk with the driver. I was itching to do it, but I didn’t move. I didn’t move because all I could envision was the situation going awry.

I feared the driver would not listen to my calmly-asked question as to why he—I assume it was a guy—tossed the cups out. I feared that he would lash back at me. I feared even worse.

As I sat and watched the two vehicles idling, the sense grew in me that this was done on purpose, that the person was deliberate in throwing these cups into our yard. And the longer the two cars remained in place, the more this sense deepened, and the more I was offended.

It felt like a dare, as if these guys were saying, “We can do whatever we want. You gonna come out here and stop us?”

I’m not saying that’s what they were thinking. It’s most likely they simply were getting rid of the cups and didn’t give a hoot about where they landed. During my daily running throughout our neighborhood, I see so much trash—cups, fast food bags, cigarette packages, you name it—that it seems many don’t care, don’t think, just want to get rid of their trash.

As I post this two days after the cups were tossed, I’m still angry. I am frustrated. I can’t get this out of my head. I simply cannot understand this kind of behavior.

I am angry because of the littering—the lack of caring displayed, that a person can toss his trash wherever, that he didn’t care whose yard he littered. (Would he want others throwing trash in his yard?) Even more, I am both angry and frustrated that I did not feel safe to talk to him. (When I told Julie, she echoed my concern.)

I find this comes down to some basic questions.

  • If people feel free to toss their trash wherever, what more important things do they not care about?
  • If folks don’t feel safe bringing such things to the attention of litterers, how will they talk to each other about more serious matters?

Now, about the dog owners, who don’t keep their pets secured, and the dozen times this year dogs have chased me as I jogged by . . .

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