TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

October 3, 2013

How hard is it to put litter in its place?


TIMES TRIBUNE (CORBIN, Ky.)

CORBIN — Appalled.

That’s pretty much the best word I can conjure up to describe what I had the misfortune to witness Wednesday morning.

I was coming out of the Walmart parking lot in Corbin, and of course, ended up in a line of traffic at the red light.

I was the fourth car in the lane to turn right onto U.S. 25E to head into work.

Since it was still morning, I was still drinking coffee and trying to absorb as much caffeine as possible.

I glanced to see if the light had changed yet, and I saw a brief flash from the car in front of me.

I stared, trying to see whatever it was I missed.

Then I saw another flash, and a couple of fingers.

The woman in front of me was littering — right in front of everybody without a hint of remorse.

I really wanted to confront her on the matter, but decided instead to write down her license plate number so I could turn her in for that.

It’s nothing more than sheer, utter laziness — and I get pretty sick of it, and I’m sure most of the rest of us do, too.

Not that I haven’t confronted a litterbug before.

One morning about three years ago I was heading into work and as usual was stopped by this same red light.

And moments after I stopped, the truck in front of me pitched a bag of trash out the driver side window.

I heard glass break when it hit the pavement.

Without thinking, I promptly put the car in park, got out, heading for the trash.

I picked up the bag and heaved it into his ample truck bed.

Peppered with a choice smattering of profane words, he asked me what I was doing.

“Putting your trash where it belongs.”

Of course, several cars in the two lanes of traffic waiting for the green light got pretty interested in this exchange, and of course I immediately thought how stupid I was to do that.

But it was too late to go back, and I figured I was in for a fight.

He jumped out of his truck, I assumed ready to fight.

Instead, he ambled his ample frame to the bed of his truck and reached for the trash bag — apparently intent on re-littering it.

But before it could happen, a chorus of car horns began to blow, and this woman leaned out of her window and said she’d call the cops if he didn’t put that right back in the truck.

Obviously livid but without a leg to stand on, he slammed the bag in the bed of the truck — when the light finally turned green, he left about half his tires on the road screeching out like a madman.

I guess he was a mad man.

It’s almost a cliche’ to say seeing the federal, state and local parks spoiled by litter is the worst of all — but in reality, so many people do care about the conditions of our parks, and volunteer efforts help abate some of the worst of the litter.

But what about the sides or medians of many roads? I was driving back from a campground in Tennessee this past weekend, and the mowers had come through to mow one last time before the dreaded winter arrives.

But while making the grass look nice — they left several miles of chopped up litter in their wake.

Thankfully I have seen little of that type of mess in Kentucky — that’s a blessing.

Look — I simply cannot understand how hard it is to get something to a trash can. You can’t excuse it, no matter how hard you try or how creative your deception seems.

There’s simply no excuse.

I cannot say that I have never been guilty of littering. I was the worst for pitching my cigarette butts out the window — which is still littering and can cause a fire.

I now either crush the smoke and pocket the butt, or in the car I usually have a can at the ready to take on the butts.

But they certainly don’t go flying out the window.

Grow up — there shouldn’t have to be laws to tell people to clean up after themselves. 

John Ross is a reporter for the Times-Tribune. He can be reached at jross@thetimestribune.com