A Philosopher's Blog

Cleanup Crew

Posted in Environment, Miscellaneous by Michael LaBossiere on July 17, 2010
Pile of trash 2
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I am a member of that informal clean up crew, those who clean up what other people do. In parks, on campuses and on the streets. That is, I pick up the trash others throw down without a thought. I fix the damage fools do to signs, water fountains, and park playgrounds.  I get to do this far too often, usually when running.

One fine Sunday, I went out for my usual run. In the park, I found that some folks had torn down a light post and shattered it, along with the light. I gathered up as much as I could find. Then I saw that some enterprising person (or persons) had tore apart the dispenser of doggy clean up bags and the sign for it. I did not have any tools with me, so I had to merely gather up the debris and put it where the park folks could find it.

After leaving the park, I ran out to the road and saw that the gremlins had been busy. Someone had pulled up most of the signs for the nearby student housing megaplex and had thrown them into the road. While people seemed content to drive over them, I pulled them out of the road and made a neat pile. I then continued my run, pulling a broken bottle or two from the bike lanes and gathering up various bags from McDonalds and other fast food joints.

As always, this makes me think about what is wrong with people.

Occasionally I will (literally) run into someone else doing the same thing. We exchange knowing smiles and return to our small roles in the struggle against the destroyers.

I think that the builders and the clean up crews are still winning against the drunk, the drugged, the wicked, and the bored destroyers. But it is a tiring struggle and cleaning up after fools is not very rewarding.

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6 Responses

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  1. T. J. Babson said, on July 17, 2010 at 9:00 am

    “As always, this makes me think about what is wrong with people.”

    It is very simple: as a society, we’ve abandoned the concept of personal responsibility.

    My favorite line from a politician that was caught doing something improper: “I’ve let myself down.” Truly snortworthy.

    • freddiek said, on July 17, 2010 at 11:00 am

      “Snortworthy” but true.

      If the politician is ego-centric” :), any personal act that might cause his fall in the eyes of others and, as a result, a loss of power or position would, indeed, be letting himself down. The guy IS taking responsibility for the consequences of his actions–the consequences that affect him.

      His blind ideological supporters will nod, and his opponents will snort.

      • kernunos said, on July 20, 2010 at 2:16 am

        …and if you are a person of good character and morals you would probably resign. But if you kill young woman by letting her drown in the back of your car you will probably serve a long political career and name your dog “Splash”.

        • freddiek said, on July 20, 2010 at 11:08 am

          “Splash”–I did not know that. How darkly ironic! :)

          I’ve refused to defend Kennedy even as he was being mourned.

          Let’s see. Kennedy pleaded guilty to something like fleeing the scene of an accident and got off lightly. There were the requisite apologies. an inquest, a grand jury.Result: a two- month suspended sentence. Evidence of the weaknesses of a corruption in our legal system or an accurate judgment based on the nature of the crime? Is it difficult to find multiple examples instances where those who are privileged by money or skin color receive special treatment?

          Then Kennedy ran for office and was re-elected. Spent over 40 years in the Senate. Further evidence of a poorly structured political system that allows candidates to buy their votes from their constituents? Further evidence of the need for term limits? Or an accurate judgment of the nature of the crime by the people of Massachusetts. You be the judge. I’ve made my decision; I’m sure you’ve already made yours.

  2. freddiek said, on July 17, 2010 at 11:01 am

    Michael: Mike: Spend much time picking up cigarette butts? They’re small, ubiquitous, and disgusting.

  3. magus71 said, on July 17, 2010 at 11:34 am

    It only takes a few people to make life for the many much messier.

    Sometimes here at the base we have to do “police call”. That is, we walk around and pick up garbage. Most of that garbage is cigarette butts outside the barracks. I live in an apartment and don’t smoke, yet I’m still responsible for the knuckleheads who don’t have the initiative to walk to a garbage can. I don’t mind it too much, as a lot of Soldiers can get it done pretty quickly, but of course the people who do it (smokers) have people cleaning up after them. Quite un-soldierly if you asked me.

    Like I said, it’s probably only a handful of people that live in the area doing the damage. It gives a false impression as to the state of Mankind. I learned this as a cop. Like in retail, it’s the repeat customers that keep business going, and they amount to a small fraction of the populace.


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