Doing Your Part

So, for the first time ever on this weblog, I’m posting something that is going into multiple categories. This is going to be a long one, so, bear with me.


Butts in the GrassI don’t dislike smokers because of cancer. If people want to kill themselves, fine. What I find distasteful is their impact on me.

1) Smoke stinks.

Even if you aren’t blowing it in my face, I can still smell it. And it is fairly putrid. You know that phrase “smells like a dirty ashtray”? There is a reason it is considered a bad thing. Along those same lines, smokers stink too. Most of them don’t realize that they trail a pungent odor around with them, that their clothes are dripping with stench, because they have become accustomed to the smell. The smoke gets in their clothes, the walls of their homes, the pulp pages of the paperback novels they own, and everything else. It permeates their very lives.

2) Cigarette butts.

The picture I have included with this tirade is of the grassy area just outside the Doraville Marta station. There is a good ten foot by fifty foot grass area with a couple of trees that parallels the kiss ride drop off. The entire area looks like that photo. There are probably quite easily a few thousand cigarette butts in the grass, and they clean this area when they mow the grass, which I think they do monthly, perhaps more often. All this despite there being at least four trash cans around the entrance to the station.

And this isn’t an isolated incident. It is the same just about everywhere. Ever looked at the side of just about any major road? Chances are it’ll be covered in butts from drivers flicking their’s out windows as opposed to actually using the ashtray in their car.

So, if you are a smoker, at least try to do your part… I won’t bitch at you for smoking if you promise not to be a jackass and litter.

And that leads into the next point about litter in general. Most people don’t want to live in a shithole. But they seem to have no problem with contributing to making the world a shithole.

I ride the bus and MARTA most days (some days I work from home, and some days I’ll drive to work because its faster), and the number of people who will leave behind trash is pathetic. Want to know how to shame an entire train car load of people? If you see some newspaper, plastic drink bottles, or fast food bags on the train rattling around on the floor as everyone pointedly ignores it, at a stop where a trash can will be relatively near your door, pick up the trash (be loud about it, crinkle the paper or bottles), ask someone to hold the door (using a loud voice, project from the diaphram to ensure people hear you), and step out to throw away the trash. When you come back, thank the person who held the door and say something like “Just couldn’t stand seeing that trash on the floor. People should throw out their own stuff.” Then enjoy as the entire car of people shift uncomfortably and avoid eye contact. Oh, there might be one or two who smile and even say something to you about how you did a good thing, but probably a good thirty percent of those people will have left trash on a train car before, and the rest of them have seen trash and never done anything about it. The best part about it, though, is that you will feel good. First off, it feels good to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. Secondly, rubbing people’s noses in their own indifference is its own reward. Remember, they wouldn’t be shifting uncomfortably and avoiding eye contact if they weren’t guilty of leaving trash or ignoring trash.

Outside of making people feel like crap about themselves on MARTA, its generally a good idea to always try to leave any place better than you found it. If you go to a park, or camping, or even to a movie theater, be better than other people and throw out your trash. Yes, they have people they hire to do that, but where do you think the money comes to pay the people who clean up after you? Movies don’t cost $9 a ticket for shits and giggles. Federal and local funded parks, it comes from your taxes. So, like the title says, do your part, don’t litter and maybe pick up a piece of trash every now and then.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blogging…

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