The Litterbug Dilema

This is an image used in a Seattle litterbug campaign. The enraged dude with the paddle? That’s exactly how I feel when I see people littering–I want to smack spank the living crap out of them.

For years I’ve been working up my nerve to ask litterbugs to pick-up their litter and be responsible. However, it was hard to maintain the veneer of civilized folk and politely ask them to pick-up their mess, when all I wanted was to kick them in the ass.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve managed to calm down a bit and contrive a less confrontational means of accosting the litterbug.

Cajoling
In Union Square park, I saw a man crumble-up the Subway sandwich wrapper his sub came in and throw it on the ground. As he was getting up to leave, I approached him and politely said…

Me: “Hey, you dropped something.”
Man: “No I didn’t.”
Me: “Come on, sure you did, it’s right there on the ground. The Subway wrapper?”
Man: “That’s not mine.”
Me: “Really? Here, I’ll get if for you.”

Without batting an eye, the guy walked away. I sighed, picked-up the wrapper and tossed it in the trash bin–not 5 feet away. Strike one.

Concerned Preemptive Strike
Walking down 42nd Street near Times Square, a woman walking past me fished-out the last cigarette from an American Spirits box and casually released the empty pack to the street. I grabbed the empty pack, chased her down and…

Me: “Maam, I’m glad I caught you! You dropped this.
Lady: “That’s not mine.
Me: “Oh? I’m sorry. I saw you drop it and wanted to get it back to you.
Lady: “That’s not fucking mine, okay??

Lady walks off. I drop the pack in a corner bin. Strike 2.

Calm Quiet Helpfulness
I had to go to the Post Office, today. As I was filling out a Certified Mail form, I glanced at a guy standing next to me–and a trash bin. He was pulling scraps of paper out of his pocket, tearing them into little pieces and dropping them to the floor. I looked down at his feet (his right foot almost touching the trash bin), and saw a growing pile of confetti. I put on a gentle smile and…

Me: “You know, there’s a trash bin right next to you?
Man: Smiles. Says nothing.
Me: “It would be better if you put it in the trash bin instead of on the floor.” I point at the trash bin in case he didn’t see it.
Man: Smiles. Looks at the trash bin. Says nothing.

The man had stopped shredding paper during our “conversation.” I gave him one more look, then went back to filling out my form.  Out of the corner of my eye I see him search his pockets, bring out another handful of paper and start shredding. While some of the scraps hit the confetti pile on the floor, he throws a brief glance in my direction, then dumps the rest of the paper he’s holding into the bin. Well, at least this time I didn’t strike out.

Now, regardless of my intent for a “civilized” means of pointing-out a litterbug’s littery little habits, I know I was just being passive aggressive. But I’m trying. I want the courage, and the grace, to take more responsibility for the things going on around me. In a small way, I’ve started with the Litterbug.

But please don’t get me started about people who drop their gum. Spankies!!!

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5 Comments on "The Litterbug Dilema"

  1. jsin
    12/12/2008 at 9:32 am Permalink

    Yesterday, I emptied my garbage bag out my window, sprinkling rotten trash on the ground because the bag was really heavy and I didn’t want to carry it outside. La la la la.

  2. jsin
    30/01/2009 at 2:05 pm Permalink

    where are all the updates?!?!?

  3. Anonymous
    27/05/2010 at 12:14 pm Permalink

    Littering is just a harmless lifestyle choice. There are much more important things to worry about. Live and let live. Litter is abandoned property, so nobody owns it.

  4. Kenny
    03/10/2010 at 8:07 am Permalink

    I’m a graphic designer and I did a random search on google for images related to “littering” for inspiration while working on a local PSA.

    Anyway, I have to say when I saw this image I laughed my ass off… That is some kinky gay porn!

  5. particia
    06/01/2011 at 12:12 pm Permalink

    cooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool funny

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