Illiterate Smokers, and The “I Saw That” Campaign

My current mustache makes this guy’s face look like it’s adorned with a Hobo Stache…. Of course, I don’t drive a Ferrari.

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.

“Hey Mister!! That beer belly better have a baby inside it, otherwise you just TOOK MY PARKING SPOT!!!”

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.”

You’re lucky all you’re getting is a disappointed head shake.

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.

Yeah, I’m going to go ahead and give you a big, fat preemptive “I SAW THAT!!!”

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….

It fits right in your cup-holder–STOP LITTERING, JACKASS! Wait a second…. That’s got a nice ring to it. Nah, that will just start a fight–I like “I SAW THAT.”

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? 

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8 Responses to Illiterate Smokers, and The “I Saw That” Campaign

  1. Wellll, I am with u 100 percent. But I am caused to recall a fellow college student the classmate we. Shall Call fed who kept his old stories aka cigaret butts in his pants cuff. Yuck. No one you know, mind you.

  2. iamgoodenuf says:

    Being a smoker for all butt a few months here and there over the past 40 years – I AGREE!!! Just WTF DUDE?!? Reeeeally?
    Even when I was a really yucky, gross, maladjusted, druggie teenager… Back when, at least I thought, it was cool to roll up your too big pant legs… I always ashed in the pant leg cuff…then put cigs out in places it wouldn’t leave those char black stains and put the butt in my big pant cuff til I ran across a trash can; my friends always made fun if me.
    Now, I still try very hard to stay a polite distance away from doorways, children, etc… When I smoke – which most of my friends make fun of me for… I carry a snack size ziploc bag in my pocket when I remember or I just put the butt in my pocket til I find a trash can…
    Not an inside trash can or a public bathroom trash can any more cuz society has decided that even the smell of a single dead butt in the same space they need to breathe is… Really yucky.
    My oldest daughter and son-in-law HATE smoke, smoking, smokers… Well, the ‘smoke part’ of all of it anyway…
    They are my worst critics and although they, ‘give the look’ & ‘offer that tone…’, they always say that I, ‘stink less than most’. That’s a compliment’n-uh-half!
    I promised my 5 yr old son that I will quit, again, the 1st – new apt – new paint – new carpet – fresh start.
    I always promise myself I’ll quit.
    I know better than to promise God I’ll quit…
    I want to stop smoking, again. I liked it better, not smoking.
    I like, ‘I SAW THAT’! I’m in!

  3. Amy Mac says:

    I agree! As a former smoker, I’m so glad I finally kicked this nasty stinking habit. I smoked for almost 10 years, and I am still appalled at the behavior of people who smoke that have no regard for other people. I kept an ashtray in my car during my smoking years. I never would throw cigs out the window, sadly not because I thought of littering, but because I had a terrible fear of the cig making its way back into my car and setting the car on fire. It always makes me laugh when I see someone snipe out their cig on their shoe and save it for later. While I am thankful they did not litter, it is a little disturbing to me that when they lit that cig back up, they smoked a little big of everything they had walked on that past week. Yuck.

  4. Amen and amen, my brother, but you forgot to mention the aspect of this abomination that goes beyond littering into frighteningly dangerous territory; lit cigarettes flying into someone else’s car. Apparently it’s OK to throw FIRE out your car window, & let it land where it may. Unreal. And you go, Lil, with your bad self. I love & respect such behavior, and think we must take a ride together this summer, and compare techniques. I’d write a blog on the list I’ve compiled of people who shouldn’t be allowed to drive, but it’s probably quite offensive, so I’ll refrain. Even though it’s
    spot on, I’ll save it for those not faint of heart, and in person. But feel free to tackle your own, T. Boeskool. We’ll compare notes later.

  5. Kevin H says:

    Would cigarette ash be considered litter?

  6. maybe. My face is flawless so far – who knows how long it will last if I start saying things like ‘I saw that’!

  7. Mellie says:

    My sweet Dad will go outside to smoke, put it out and then bring the butt inside my house to put it in the trash can. Shew-wee it makes the whole house stink! He’s trying, just need to reroute the disposal of his butts.

  8. Jimmy Beard says:

    And now for the opposing view. I came across this a few years back and saved it in a file. Jimmy Beard

    Smoking Spiritualized
    By Ralph Erskine and Blayne Chastain
    The first part being an old meditation upon smoking tobacco by Ralph Erskine. The second, a new addition to it, or improvement of it by Blayne Chastain.
    Part 1
    This Indian weed now wither’d quite,
    Though green at noon, cut down at night,
    Shows thy decay;
    All flesh is hay.
    Thus think, and smoke tobacco.
    The pipe so lily-like and weak,
    Does thus thy mortal state bespeak.
    Thou art ev’n such,
    Gone with a touch.
    Thus think, and smoke tobacco.
    And when the smoke ascends on high,
    Then thou behold’st the vanity
    Of worldly stuff,
    Gone with a puff.
    Thust think, and smoke tobacco.
    And when the pipe grows fowl within,
    Think on thy soul defiled with sin;
    For then the fire
    It does require.
    Thus think, and smoke tobacco.
    And seest the ashes cast away;
    Then to thyself thou mayest say,
    That to the dust
    Return thou must.
    Thus think, and smoke tobacco.
    Part II
    Was this small plant for thee cut down?
    So was the Plant of great renown;
    Which mercy sends
    For nobler ends.
    Thus think, and smoke tobacco.
    Doth juice medicinal proceed
    From such a naughty foreign weed?
    Then what’s the pow’r
    Of Jesse’s flow’r?
    Thus think and smoke tobacco.
    The promise, like the pipe, inlays,
    And by the mouth of faith conveys
    What virtue flows
    From Sharon’s rose.
    Thus think, and smoke tobacco.
    In vain th’ unlighted pipe you blow;
    Your pains in outward means are so,
    Till heavenly fire
    Your hearts inspire.
    Thus think, and smoke tobacco.
    The smoke, like burning incense, tow’rs;
    So should a praying heart of yours
    With ardent cries
    Surmount the skies.
    Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

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