The big man was stuck at a light on Sabattus Street and he used the idle minute to stuff his face. 

Big Mac, it looked like, or possibly a quarter pounder. Before the light went from red to green, he wolfed down half of it and managed to cram in a handful of fries, as well. 

Good for him, I figured. In busy times, eating on the go is a good talent to have. 

I was driving behind the dude on East Avenue when the blizzard of waste began streaming from the driver’s side window. 

First it was the Big Mac (or possibly quarter pounder) wrapper. The big man cast it out the window and for a second or two, the wrapper hung in the air like a giant, greasy moth over East Avenue. Then it floated to the ground, found a fresh current of air and fluttered to the side of the street to join other trash that had been exiled to the curb. 

Next came the cup. By the time he had reached the intersection at Webster Street, the hungry man was finished with his milk shake and out the window it went. I knew for sure it was a milk shake because when the cup went tumbling to the pavement, it did so in a wash of thick, foamy goo that sprayed across the roadway. 


The french fry container joined the parade of litter just before East Avenue crossed Bartlett Street. When the man unabashedly flung it into the night, the bright red cup went straight up on the wind like a kite and then nosedived to the street like a suicidal bird. 

“Wonder if he’ll throw out the bag, too,” I wondered to my steering wheel. 

I should have placed a bet on it. Before we reached Lisbon Street, the crumbled bag went out the window, along with some smaller pieces of garbage the hungry man apparently felt was a problem for some lesser being. 

I flashed my lights at the slob and a seizure of the hand may have caused one of my fingers to fly up in his general direction, but that was the extent of my involvement with the matter. I don’t know what that “Give-a-Hoot” owl would have done in this situation — messy flyover justice from the sky, possibly — but when Mr. Happy Meal turned left onto Lisbon Street and I turned right, that was the end of our brief and messy encounter.  

I’ve been thinking about that bald-faced litterbug lately because to my eye, it looks like littering is a problem on the rise.  

I don’t have any scientific process or hard numbers to back that up, mind you. Maybe it’s just a matter of perception — perhaps I saw the “Crying Indian” commercial a few too many times as a kid and that lonely tear made me overly sensitive to litter. Lately, I’ve been seeing what is known in scientific circles as “a crap ton” of litter, junk and ugly mounds of garbage floating around our local world. 


Old, bald tires tossed into the woods. Busted appliances chucked out into the tall grass next to the railroad tracks. Nasty old sofas and hideously stained mattresses trucked out into the wilderness and dumped over the side. 

In store parking lots, people open their car doors and unceremoniously dump their ash trays right there in the parking space. Same with old food wrappers, dirty diapers, wadded tissues and anything demoted to the rank of garbage and thus declared someone else’s problem. 

Lately, it’s the discarded face masks and nitrile gloves blowing across parking lots like a late summer snow. I recently spotted a woman who stepped out of the store, immediately ripped off her disposable mask and flung it to the wind. 

I knew the lady and was surprised by this, so I asked her why she’d done it. 

“Oh, come on,” she said. “They got someone who comes out here regularly to clean the lot, so what’s one more thing for them to pick up?” 

Somebody else’s problem, in other words. 


I’m not a preachy sort and almost never try to dictate how another person conducts his or her self, but if I could offer this sincere and heartfelt plea to people who behave likewise, it would be this: “Stop crapping up the world with your trash, slob from Slobovia. Take the extra five steps to the garbage can or haul your Unhappy Meal wrappers home with you.” 

People who toss trash into the streets, to me, are on par with those who park in handicapped spaces or who go to national parks and spray-paint graffiti on the rocks. That is to say, they are selfish and unrepentant weasels. 

And with all that said, I guess I should point out that when I encountered the chow-mad litterbug on East Avenue way back when, I never went back to pick up what he had so carelessly tossed into the street. I guess, like everybody else, I figured someone else would clean it up. 

I suppose this means that when Woodsy the Owl makes his next enraged flyover, I should expect my own dose of punishment from above.

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