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Litter Bug
2008-07-08 08:44
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

I used to litter causually, without giving it much thought.  I'd think nothing of stuffing a newspaper between my legs, under my seat on the train when I was finished with it.  Or I'd toss a gum wrapper on the ground. 

Then one day about ten years ago, I was walking down the street with my friend Joey La P and I tossed something on the ground without thinking.  Joey got all over me.  "How about a little respect, bro?"  He didn't humiliate me, but didn't let it slide either.  Since that day, I've been aware about littering (not that I didn't know it was a lousy thing to do before that).  So much so that now I'm like one of those reformed smokers, vigilant, judgemental.  I give people the evil eye when I see them blatantly throw their crap on the floor, although I am careful exactly who I stare at and for how long. 

But I've become a righteous prig.  What can you do?  Mostly, if I'm really bothered, I just walk over and pick up whatever has just been dumped and, without saying a word, or even looking at the offender, place it in a garbage can myself.  If I'm with a friend, I give them the ol' Joey La P treatment.  "Yo, how about a little respect?"

Comments
2008-07-08 08:55:33
1.   dianagramr
You are not alone on the litter patrol Alex.

I too give the "evil eye" to those who can't seemingly walk their refuse to the nearest receptacle, especially those that leave their junk on tables in food courts and fast food joints.

The ones that irk me the most are parents who do that in front of their kids. One time about 20+ years ago, I was riding the subway through Boro Park. A young Jewish couple and their two kids were snacking on some candy. Daddy unwrapped the candy, gave it to the kids, and then dropped the wrappers on the train car floor.

They happened to get off at the same stop I did, so I picked up their litter (from behind them ... they didn't see me), said "excuse me sir ... you left your litter behind", and dropped the wrappers in his hand. He looked a little bewildered.

2008-07-08 09:39:35
2.   mbtn01
I was jogging the other night in Greenpoint when I observed a careless chick chat away on her cellphone while her dog left a pile on the sidewalk and they continued on their way. I turned back, made sure the dog belonged to her when yelled "clean up your shit!" loud enough for the person on the other end of her call to hear ... I felt like an idiot but something had to be done.

I think the right strategy is to catch these inconsiderate folks on youtube but I didn't have a camera.

2008-07-08 09:46:54
3.   Alex Belth
Oh man, parents littering in front of their kids is the worst.

Dude, I saw something that had me speechless this morning...waiting to cross 7th avenue, this prissy ms. thing walks across the street, AGAINST the light. A car almost screeched to a halt so as not to hit her. Yo, she gave the car a dirty look and then went back to texting on her mobile device. Texting! I mean I NEVER would wish for someone to get hurt but this girl was playing with fate. Moreover, there were a bunch of us on the sidewalk that could have gotten hit by a car. Yo, it took everything I had not to go nuts on this girl.

2008-07-08 10:17:02
4.   AbbyNormal821
3 You had to go there, didn't you Alex? LOL! It absolutely pisses me off to NO end the mindlessness of people on their...pardon the Francaise...fucking cell phones. People just walk and walk and blah-blah-blah...and they get pissed at YOU when they slam right into you, like I'm the one who got in their way! On more than several occasions I've given it back to them, stepping aside to let them pass and saying "hey, go ahead honey - it's YOUR world after all".

...and don't even get me started on people blasting music out of their iPods!!!You have earphones for a reason! AAAAAAAAAAAARRRGH!

2008-07-08 10:54:28
5.   KYK
how about when i come home on a friday or saturday night and some drunk knucklehead is pissing on my front stoop. i live down in alphabet city, and now everyone comes in from all over to get drunk. i usually start screaming about how would they like it if i went to their neighborhood and pissed all over the place. bunch of young urban narcissists (http://vanishingnewyork.blogspot.com/2007/08/young-urban-narcissists_08.html) are ruining it for everyone.
2008-07-08 11:09:32
6.   3rd gen yankee fan
I'm happy to hear there's some other anti-litterbugs in the world.
2008-07-08 11:25:26
7.   weeping for brunnhilde
5 Oh my God.

Once, back in the nineties, I was in the East Village and this overgrown fratboy from NJ (so his behavior suggested), flanked by two or three of his fratboy friends, was--get this--walking down the street with his johnson flopping about, PISSING before him as he went! Urinating, right there, like a beast, getting it on himself because it's not easy to walk and piss at the same time, even for a troglodyte, apparently.

I was mortified.

I don't think I've ever been so dumbfounded by my fellow man (I mean that in both senses of the word).

My jaw was down by my knees and I looked around for someone to register my disgust with, and guess what, the FIRST passer-by I saw was a COP!

I sicced him on the malefactor: "Hey, THAT guy is walking down the street PISSING!!"

And he went and got him.

I've never, ever been happier to see a cop in all my life.

I'm no angel, mind you. I've been known to relieve myself in urban settings in dire emergencies, especially back then when it was hard to find a bathroom to use for non-customers because everyone figured if you needed their bathroom, you must be a junkie.

But good God, be discrete, and show some respect.

Blech.

Speaking of which, remember when Mattingly was taken downtown for public urination?

2008-07-08 11:27:23
8.   Dimelo
0 I'm with you, Alex. I love to mtn. bike and growing up in the city littering wasn't something I was annoyed at, but the more time I spent in the woods and appreciating nature caused me to take a different perspective.

I would never litter on a mtn. bike trail, so I hate it when I go by my old stomping grounds on Dyckman and see some of the younger kids have no respect for their neighborhood. I wasn't someone who littered, but I didn't get nutty over it either.

Now, like you, I find myself getting annoyed by people littering. I was really annoyed when I was in my car by the 230th entrance to the Deegan and this guy in front of me was telling his kids to throw the cups out the window. I was so heated seeing that, but it's hard to make people appreciative of clean streets and the what because they first have to get over that sense of entitlement they've grown up with - also known as a chip on their shoulder.

One place I notice that I have littered is when I'm at the stadium, I think I ate a bag of popcorn and left it under the seat w/o thinking. I have to catch myself when I'm there. If I remember to pick it up then I do, but I think i forget more than I remember. I'll make it more of a priority now that I've given it more thought.

2008-07-08 11:39:34
9.   weeping for brunnhilde
5 Thanks for the link; great site!

While it's true that old-NY is vanishing, and it's lamentable, it's also true that no amount of change will ever kill NY.

Its spirit is strong enough to survive even the developers and new residents with no respect for the unique environment they find themselves in.

The Rockies may crumble, Gibraltar may tumble, baby, they're only made of clay. But NY is here to stay.

2008-07-08 12:05:49
10.   Bama Yankee
0 Good for you, Alex. It's nice to hear others who deplore littering. Growing up as a Boy Scout, I did my share of picking up trash in parking lots after special events (we always found some pretty interesting things) and from roadsides. Once you've picked up someone else's trash, you usually think twice about spreading your own. Those people who are caught littering should be required to clean up the area they've littered for a little while. Maybe that would help change their attitude about littering.

Also, in the Scouts they taught us to leave places better than we found them. So, even now if I see a piece of trash in my path I have the urge to pick it up. If those of us who hate litter would all pick up something that was not ours, then maybe others would get the message and also pitch in to help clean up or maybe just not litter in the first place. I guess it would be like spreading a "random act of kindness" or in this case it would be a "random act of clean-ness".

2008-07-08 12:16:01
11.   Kered Retej
0 8 10 I'm definitely in agreement as well. I played a club sport at Stanford (ice hockey) and we did "stadium cleans" after football games to raise money, and I have to tell you I was completely blown away how much stuff people just toss on the ground, often right in front of the garbage can. Like you couldn't walk that extra step to drop it in the can. We would be out there for an entire day cleaning up, and fill one large trash bag for each row. It was pretty disgusting and definitely turned me off littering (not that I was a "ltterer" before). And keep in mind this is Stanford football, not exactly cream of D-I sports. I can't even begin to imagine how messy Yankee Stadium is after a game.
2008-07-08 12:27:24
12.   AllReb
Mobile devices... I accidentally passive-agressively told someone off for using a mobile DVD player with no freaking headphones on the subywa. (Accidentally meaning I didn't intend for my comment to a friend to be overheard, but it definitely was, which all amounts to passive agression, I guess.) It's just so very, very rude.

cough The former-movie-theater-employee in me would like to bring up leaving half-empty bags of popcorn under your seats, like cups at stadiums. If you wonder why the theater is often so gross, it's because so much crap was left behind that the cleaners didn't have time to do a thorough job before the next showing started... cough But that's a bit far off the topic.

I like the new "be part of the solution, not the polition" posters. Updated versions of "give a hoot, don't polute!" I guess.

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