Friday, December 28, 2018

COLUMN: Litter

When I sit down to write this column, there's only one rule I try and give myself: BE POSITIVE.

I'm not remotely qualified to discuss the problems of the world. I'm barely qualified to discuss my cats. There's enough depessing news in the world, there's no need for me to add to it. A high percentage of daily life is utterly ridiculous -- if you don't stop to appreciate the silly side of life, you're not really living.

I've always believed that humanity is innately good. You see it every day. Maybe it's a stranger holding a door open for you. A driver yielding the right-of-way. A friend enduring yet ANOTHER cat story. We're all in this absurd life together, so let's make the best of it.

But THIS week, it's been tough to stay positive.

We've had mentally disturbed people mailing bombs and gunning down innocent faithful in Pittsburgh, and that's the kind of awful you just can't wrap your head around. Obviously, the folks responsible have more than one screw loose, so I don't know if we CAN understand or if we should even bother trying. All the while, our leaders condemn the "terrible, terrible thing what's going on with hate in our country" and then seemingly contribute to it.

I've never shoveled poop in my life -- but I think I'd prefer THAT job to being the White House press secretary, no matter WHO'S in office. Remember the days when the government would call press briefings to actually brief the press? Nowadays, the press secretary's job is less news conveyer and more news spinner.

I feel bad for Sarah Huckabee Sanders sometimes. Her entire job is to defend and rationalize a vast number of indefensible tweets and gaffes while reporters bait her into MORE gaffes through a barrage of slanted and leading questions. I wouldn't take her job for a kajillion dollars (unless I got paid upfront and didn't have to return the money the first time I told someone precisely where they could shove it.)

I tried to escape news the other day and opted to peruse social media. Within minutes, I found myself roped into a war of words with someone trying to DEFEND the area teacher who got caught partying in blackface. Wow. You don't understand what the big deal is? Once upon a time, people didn't understand the problem with Amos & Andy either. At worst, it's racist. At best, it shows wickedly poor judgement. Neither are qualities I want in a teacher, sorry. 

I needed an escape, so I stepped off the information superhighway to go wait in line for deliciously awful fast food. And there I was, patiently chilling in the drive-thru lane, when the car ahead of me rolled down its windows while both driver and passenger began chucking trash out onto the ground. It was a straight-up litter party with bags, cups, and debris everywhere.

Is this REALLY where we're at as a society? Does our town matter THAT little to people that they can dump detritus on the ground in full view of strangers with nary a pang of guilt? I'm no angel. I'm sure I'm leaving a shamefully sizeable carbon footprint in my wake. But never in my WILDEST delusions would I just start heaving trash out the window.

I almost took a stand. I imagined picking up their trash while giving them the stinkeye. But then I also imagined a gigantic dude getting out of that car and starting a rumble. Although it's probably the most appropriate spot for me, I'd prefer not to die in a drive-thru lane. "Here lies Shane, He Sure Liked Tacos." So I wussed out. Actually, I yelled "Are you SERIOUS right now?" but I doubt they heard. When I got to the window, I told an employee about the trash dump, and she replied with an "okay" that clearly indicated she couldn't care less.

So it's been a tough week to be Up With People, but I haven't lost hope. There's still good out there. And if sometimes you can't see it, prove it to people. Keep holding doors for strangers. Don't hate or offend people. Don't make the world your dumpster. And if you REALLY want to be positive? VOTE. When you make your voice heard AND get a free sticker out of the deal, everybody wins.

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