Each morning at six-thirty, rain or shine, I walk my peppy little Shih Tzu around the block in my California neighborhood. Yes, I always carry poop bags. I’ll admit, carrying a droopy poop bag back home for discard isn’t as sexy as carting a bag-o-cash to the bank vault, but I got over the ickiness of it long ago.
On these walks I often pass by kids walking to school, some clomping in a steady beat along the sidewalk on skateboards and others taking the shoe-leather express, much the way I did as a schoolkid. And as often as not I hear them talking, laughing and arguing. Oftener, I cringe at the simpleton rap music blaring from their iPods. (Are you telling me that in fifty years these kids are going to be reminiscently singing the lyrics to these songs? Like MC Hammer’s Pumps and a Bump which goes “I don’t like ’em figgity fat, I like ’em stiggity stacked, you wiffity-wiggity wack if you ain’t got biggity back.”)
. . . Hmm. Enough swaggy tongue, let us get back to English you can’t dance to. Here is what happened on today’s walk. My area was shrouded in a weak fog. Walking about forty yards behind two high school-aged boys, I saw that one was eating Cheetos from a bag – I mean pouring a cascade of them into his wide-open mouth and right down his throat, seemingly without the benefit of having to touch teeth. He finished the bag and uninhibitedly tossed it on the ground in my neighbor’s front yard. Then he saw me, yes, the old curmudgeon and his leashed, wimpy little dog not far behind him. (About then I kind of wished I had had a snarling pit bull instead.) Obviously the kid didn’t know if I lived in the home where he had just dumped his unfriendly trash, so he stepped back and scooped up the Cheetos bag. (It was adroitly done, like the way I sweep up my dog’s crap from the middle of the road.) Then, for good measure, he said loud enough for me to hear: “I’m feeling generous today, there’s a trash can over there.”
In return I snorted a sneer at him, something I’ve gotten pretty good at in my old age, which basically says in guttural shorthand, “You’re a moron!”
Carrying his would-have-been litter, he walked on until he came to the curbside trash receptacle (it was trash pick-up day). Then he turned and made sure I saw him lift the lid and put his garbage gingerly into the trash can, as if to grunt back, “See, old geezer?”
Yes, kid, I see all right – right through you: the guilty actions of a litterbug who’s been caught. If this kid actually thinks that being “generous” is doing the right thing only when you’re caught doing the wrong thing, he’s on the expressway to being institutionalized. Okay, a litterbug doesn’t a criminal make. But it does make a kid and someday, an adult, who has little if any respect for, or sense of, community. And, come on, you know this wasn’t his first time. Such crude habitual actions are an infectious symptom of a coarsened American culture. I call it craping on our community values, without a poop bag.
R.D. Byron-Smith’s books can be found at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks and other online booksellers.