I Quit Complaining and Did Something

Today I started out on my morning walk with the pup.  I encountered trash … again.  I was sick to death of teaching the dog to “Leave it!” and “Drop it!”

We have nice homes in this neighborhood.  Why do we have to put up with the few jerks down the road who litter and let their garbage scatter everywhere?

For months I was thinking I should just pick up the garbage.  This morning I decided to make it my mission.  I took the pup back to our house, donned disposable gloves, a couple garbage bags, and my nifty hand-trigger poop-scoop jaws.

Our usual 15-to-20-minute walk turned into an hour and a half.  I picked up everything from 2-liter soda bottles to Styrofoam to-go containers, to crushed and uncrushed soda cans, to beer bottles (whole and broken), to pieces of plastic and foam and paper, all the way down to bottle caps and cigarette butts.

Why, oh why, do smokers insist on throwing their butts on the ground?

I think I have every right to complain about smokers, because I smoked one and a half packs each day for fifteen years.  Quitting was one of the toughest things I ever did, and I managed to do it before having children.  I’ll readily admit there’s nothing worse than a militant ex-smoker … and I’m proud to be one!

Do smokers know there are laws against throwing cigarette butts out car windows when conditions are dry, like they are in my area right now?  Does anyone know how many wildfires smokers start with their carelessness?  I would definitely support making it illegal to toss lit cigarette butts any time – with heavy fines – because how are car travelers supposed to know whether or not it’s a dry season where they’re driving through?

Wildfires aside, did you know it takes anywhere from 18 months to ten years for a cigarette butt to decompose?  Doesn’t it bother smokers that people have to walk past their trash for years to come?  Not to mention all the toxic tar and nicotine in the butts which leach into the ground, and get caught on the soles of our shoes, which we track into our homes.

Thanks a lot, smokers who throw cigarette butts out car windows!

Such are my rambling thoughts as I pick up piece after piece of ugly trash in our neighborhood.

The dog and I covered one side of the street for a half-mile, and turned around, with me calling all the while, “Leave it!”  “Drop it!”

I saved the “best” parts for last in my mission to clean the street – our neighborhood junk yard (this guy lives for acquiring more and more junk), and our neighborhood meth lab.  Yep, we’ve got one.  They were busted several months ago, and for the life of me, I don’t know why they’re still living in that trailer, with vehicles coming and going all the time.

I was walking by their driveway as they pulled out the other day, and saw billows of smoke pouring out their car windows.  I caught a whiff.  Yep, pot. (Nothing worse than a militant ex-pot smoker, second to ex-cigarette smoker, that is!)

One of my neighbors drove by in his truck and stopped.  “I want to commend you,” he said.

“I’m so sick of all this trash,” I said.  “I just decided to do something about it.”

We proceeded to talk about our neighborhood meth lab, and he told me they’ve been busted four times over the years, that he knows of.  The neighbors next to them, who were great people, finally decided to pack up and move.  What a shame.  Why hasn’t the meth lab trailer been declared uninhabitable?  Why do they keep living there, bust after bust?  Is it because all they have to do each time is turn in someone they don’t like?

We’re both dumb-founded as we carry on our conversation.

“I sent a couple of my employees down there to clean up the trash a couple weeks ago,” said my neighbor.

Holy crap, I thought.  I’m just cleaning up two weeks’ worth of trash?

I took a second walk with the pup this evening, and savored the wondrously clean environment, with no “Leave it!” or “Drop it!” commands.

I don’t know how long it will last, but it was cool to at least make a small positive impact in the neighborhood.  It was good to go for a walk without complaining, because I finally decided to become a part of the solution, rather than a part of the problem (complaining, negativity, etc.).

Maybe you know of a situation which always evokes complaints and negativity from your lips.  Why not do something about it?  Why not make a positive impact on the lives of those about you?  Why not make it your mission … and have fun doing it?

I did indeed have fun today.

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7 Responses to “I Quit Complaining and Did Something”

  1. http://slowdancejournal.wordpress.com Says:

    Our neighborhood, although one of very modest means, is spotlessly clean, thanks in large part to a gaunt and taciturn woman named Miss Holly who walks our streets every morning picking up trash before falling into bed after her night job stocking shelves at WalMart. She has done this for 20 plus years now with a little help from others who pick up whatever they see on the ground (I’m in that category).

    Our neighbor, Jeff, oversees an active neighborhood crime watch program. We all know each other around here and no one is shy about calling our neighborhood resource officer about drug problems, loud music, loose dogs–anything that affects the quality of life in Seminole Manor for which there is legal recourse–and we talk to each other a lot.

    The trash and meth lab in your neighborhood require action, like the one-woman pick-up you just did. But maybe this is a chance to build a stronger community by working together to solve shared problems. The meth lab has got to go! (I’ll lend you Jeff).

  2. My Other Zone Says:

    I agree! We love our neighborhood – no trash and no meth … at least that I know of! I, too, pick up trash where I see it and am mystified by those who think “throw away” means “out the car window”. Thanks for all you do, Judy – on behalf our world!

  3. Lisa Says:

    Making a difference is contagious. Cheers to you Judy! =)

  4. Don Jones Says:

    You are a great neighbor. If everbody did what you do it would be a much nicer world. They trash our beautiful Vermont as well. We are always picking up trash on our walks. Don

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