That's what happens to my street, about every day. It gets trashed. I don't mean like a bunch of drunk frat boys. And it's not as bad as, say, Bourbon Street after Mardi Gras. But people throw crap on the sidewalk all the time.
I've started picking up trash sometimes when I walk N's dog, at least every other day and sometimes every day. I didn't start this because I'm trying to be some neighborhood do-gooder martyr or something. It's because I wanted the dog the be able to piss in the tree boxes without having to worry about broken glass. So it began with picking glass out of the treeboxes. But it always starts small, doesn't it?
Now, this dog, while cute as hell, is incredibly badly behaved. He has a paper-product fetish. If you leave a napkin where he can get it, he will eat it. If he can get his mouth around a roll of toilet paper, you think it's Halloween and some drunk kids toilet papered your house. He will clean out the bathroom trash can in seconds. And don't even think about leaving actual food where he can get it. David Copperfield couldn't make a pizza disappear faster. It's pretty unbelievable, actually.
So I soon learned that just picking up the glass wasn't going to be enough. I had to keep the sidewalks clear of paper products, too. Any disgusting napkin or q-tip or McDonald's wrapper was a delicious treat for this demented dog. Rather than spend half of the time on the walk avoiding bits of trash here and there, I just started picking them up. It made life a lot easier.
I must admit, it has gone way beyond it's original purpose. I've started to actually look forward to picking up the trash on the morning walks. I get excited when I find a broken bottle I can clean up. I've maybe even been a little disappointed when there's no trash some days. Yeah, it's pretty sad. I probably should get a hobby, like shrub-sculpting.
But the trash, the glorious trash! Sometimes there's a lot of stuff, especially Sunday mornings. But lately, there have been days when I've gotten next to nothing. I feel like the rate of trash production on the block and a half I "maintain" has gone down since I started picking stuff up. My theory is people may feel a little bad, sometimes, about littering on an otherwise clean block. Not everyone of course. But lately, I've had to walk a little farther to fill up my Giant bag with trash in the morning. It used to be that just one turn on to Spring Road would guarantee me a half-dozen malt liquor cans or bottles and at least one mess of someone's lunch from Wendy's the day before. Now, it's only every few days that I even find an unbroken bottle.
I've also started to notice a lot of patterns in where and when the trash is produced.
1) The majority of the trash appears at roughly the same spots, and generally spreads from there. Bad neighbors. Bad.
2) Someone must be parking their car between 10th and 11th on Spring Road, eating their Wendy's, and chucking their trash on the sidewalk about every single day. Lame. On the other hand, they will probably suffer a heart attack within the next few years, so it's a self-solving problem.
3) People are a lot more likely to deposit trash in overgrown treeboxes. No surprise there.
5) I am thinking about starting a new feature: "piece of trash of the day."
6) I'm just kidding. Sort of.
The point of this post is really just anthropological. I'm not on a mission to create the citizen's trash picking corps. Though it has occurred to me that if even one in ten dog owners picked up a few pieces of trash whenever they walked their dogs, the city would probably be spotless. Something to think about.