On this first cool morning of September, things got a little heated in my neighborhood while Jeter and I were out for our first walk of the day. We were just rounding the corner to return to our block when I observed two things.
- First, the good news: the mound of discarded, broken furniture which had been left on the edge of park in my neighborhood was gone.
- Second, a man, who apparently lives in the house nearest to the area where the household garbage had been placed, was dragging two mattresses to the exact same spot where the trash had recently been removed.
Hmmm, what should I do?
As Jeter waited with surprising patience, I considered my options. Do I try to involve the authorities with a complaint? Should I ignore his use of a public green space as his personal dumping ground? Or, do I confront him?
Ultimately, I decided that I needed to speak to him directly. I turned around and walked to where he was sitting in his running vehicle, with the window rolled down, as if he had anticipated my return. The first words spoken were his, “I’m not supposed to do that, am I?” I responded with a “No,” explaining that trash night is Monday and that the city will take the mattresses on our regularly scheduled pick up day.
I continued, explaining that people who live in the neighborhood don’t want to look at his trash until next week and that it’s not ok to throw garbage on public property. He responded that he had already thrown the mattresses there (on this green, public space) once already, and someone had returned them to their previous location of leaning against the house where he lives. I pointed out that that action by whomever had been the correct one. Trash needs to be contained to one’s property for collection on the designated day. That’s how it works in a community.
He expressed, with confidence, that the city would send someone out today and remove the mattresses from the grass. I countered by telling him that wasn’t the point. There’s a system in place and it’s a reasonable one. Expecting the city to send a truck on an additional day to pick up oversized garbage is unfair.
I asked him if he had thrown the other, already removed, items there the previous day. He flatly denied it, but pointed out that everything was already gone, a fact which confirmed his philosophy that he could discard whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted.
In closing, I told him his actions were poor and that our neighborhood (and yours, too!) deserves better. I walked home wondering if the mattresses will still be there when I head out to my morning yoga class – and, if they are, if I would personally drag them back to lean again against the side of his house.
The city needs to more aggressively seek out and fine the people who are actively trashing our neighborhoods. If financial penalty for their actions causes an undue difficulty, public service hours spent picking up trash would make the point just as effectively.
It’s intimidating to call someone out when you see them doing something wrong, especially in the gun toting country we live in, but I’m glad I took the initiative this morning. What would you have done?
Note: The accompanying image is NOT a picture of the now removed furniture and is used just for illustrative purposes. Source is here.