It always surprises me when people mess with me while I am driving in my piece of crap car. Do they not know the old adage about never getting into a fist fight with an ugly person, because they have nothing to lose (Wait a second…. no one’s ever gotten into a fist fight with me! What does this mean?). My car is pretty ugly. For some reason, what started out five years ago as a spot where the paint was coming off has now spread to most of the paint job–If it were a dog, it would have mange. But it keeps me humble. Left unchecked, the combination of my mad blogging skills and my flawless facial hair might give me an inflated ego, but my beat up Nissan Sentra (as well as the Slim Jim wrappers on the floor) helps keep my feet on the ground.
Anyway, if someone messes with me and makes a jackass move on the road, I’m not the sort of person that’s going to do something to get myself shot–There are way too many people driving around with guns (especially in the South). I’m not going to blare my brights at someone, tailgate somebody, get in front of them and slam on my brakes, flip somebody off–I rarely even use my horn…. My wife, however, is not so cautious. She has been known to confront strangers face to face about minor infractions like parking an SUV in a compact spot, or parking in a spot reserved for pregnant mothers: “Excuse me, sir. When are you due? I said WHEN ARE YOU DUE? Because I just saw you park in an expectant mothers’ parking spot, THAT’S WHY!!!” Followed by me saying, “Roll up the window, sweetie. You’r going to get us shot.”
I handle things a little differently, but if someone acts like a jerk in their car there is something in me that, just like my wife, feels compelled to let them know about it–or at least let them know that I KNOW. I will go out of my way for the chance to get next to them and give them a really disappointed look (I know, I’m pretty hard core). Sometimes, they will act like they don’t notice my disappointment (which REALLY pisses me off), or else their windows are too tinted and I can’t make eye contact(infuriating), but most of the time that little disappointed look–that little pursed-lipped frown with a head shake–makes me feel just better enough. As if they are going to consider my stern look of disapproval before they decide to cut someone off the next time…. One can hope.
So a little while ago, I wrote a blog about Why You Should Quit Smoking, and one of the big reasons I gave to quit is because Smokers Are Litterers. Every one of them (Right, I know that not EVERY smoker is, but it sure feels this way). They throw their cigarette butts out their windows, they bury them in the sand at the beach for my kids to find, and they flick them on the ground and step on them to put them out. And we all watch them do this and we say nothing. If you saw someone throw a McDonald’s cup on the ground, most people would probably say something, but we stay silent when it comes to butts. Here’s the thing: I don’t have a problem if people want to smoke cigarettes. If you want make yourself stinky, if you want to kill yourself one cigarette at a time, if you want to do something that you will almost certainly regret someday as you try over and over to quit–That’s your business. But throwing your trash on the ground for someone else to pick up is just not cool. And from now on, if I see you throw your cigarette butt on the ground and leave it there, I’m saying something. Even if I’m the only one.
Though it would be a lot cooler if I wasn’t the only one saying something…. If there was some sort of movement to discourage the non-stop littering. Every good movement needs a good slogan, so I’ve been trying to figure out what would be a good thing to say–I thought maybe “That’s littering,” but that seemed a little too impersonal and simplistic. So I thought maybe, “You’re a litterer,” but that seemed a little TOO personal. It needed a little snark, and the word “litter” skews a bit Middle School. Also it also came out sounding like you were saying, “You’re illiterate,” which, if it happens to be true, could be really hurtful. So here’s where I’ve landed: If I see someone throw a cigarette on the ground, I’m going to say three simple words–“I Saw That.” Step on a butt and walk away? “I saw that.” Flick it on the sidewalk? “I saw that.” Send a cherry flying out your window? At the next light, I’m rolling down my window and you’re getting yourself a big, fat “I SAW THAT!!!” It’s at least mildly funny, it draws attention to the fact that they are doing something they shouldn’t be doing, and it’s probably not going to start a fight. Probably….
I figure if enough of us start saying “I Saw That,” maybe the streets will not be so filled with butts. Maybe the myth that cigarette butts are biodegradable (which they are NOT) will stop being spread. Maybe instead of throwing them out of their car windows, people will put them in their ash trays instead of their spare change, and then dump them out when they get home. Maybe they will spend a couple bucks on one of THESE COOL PRODUCTS (an ashtray that goes on your car window, a smokeless ashtray for your car, and a pocket ashtray). And maybe the streets and sidewalks and beaches would not be so gross. How cool would that be? But I can’t be the only one saying it–we have to work together to make it lame to throw cigarette butts on the ground. Who’s with me?