Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The downside of being a litter vigilante

Dad points out that The Toronto Star has coverage of a psycho motorist attacking a cyclist who did exactly the same kind of thing I used to do when I lived in Toronto:


"He had popped open his car door and whipped his food on the road, like a beef patty on a bun in a paper bag, and then slammed the door ... so obviously now, against better judgment, I leapt up, grabbed the food, opened his door, shouted something about `Don't litter in my neighbourhood,' and threw it back in his car and shut the door. He lost it."


Friends used to worry about my safety when I lived in Toronto, 'cuz I used to do pretty much exactly that on an almost daily basis. I remember walking along Queen Street out front of City Hall and putting some Burger King garbage back through a car window from where it had emerged seconds earlier. I think I even said "please don't litter in my neighbourhood." I used to say that pretty often, actually. On the street, on the sidewalk, on subway trains. Amanda was scared to go places with me 'cuz she didn't want to see some loogan lay the smack down on the ol' Superstar.

I haven't done that here, yet, since I really don't see a lot of littering going on in Halifax. I mean, there's some litter here and there, but it's not as chronic as in Toronto.

I was at an anti-littering news conference held by the City of Toronto a coupla years back. I asked the city councillor leading the fight how people should handle litterbugs when they see the offense taking place. She stopped short of endorsing my confrontational approach, but suggested that a comment here and there would not be inappropriate. (Perhaps, "Oops, you dropped something.")

I had hoped that Mayor David Miller's campaign to restore civic pride would inspire people to reclaim ownership of their environment. Maybe this incident will help. Even so, shoving the trash back through the car window may be seen as going too far for some people.

But really -- do these jerks who toss their trash willy-nilly expect that the decent folks who like their city will just roll their eyes and pretend it doesn't happen? I don't expect that a dramatic gesture such as picking up the garbage and handing it back to the offender will prevent them from doing it again, but at least they should know that their actions are seen and are seen as inappropriate. Maybe next time they'll at least look to see that nobody's watching them.

Photos of the psycho driver vs. anti-litter cyclist incident, along with extensive commentary, are posted at http://www.citynoise.org/article/2770. The photog says Mr. Yellow-toothed Litterbug came at him with a bat after the incident. What a piece of work.

Side note -- the Star reports that the photographer had "just finished photographing an elderly woman wearing a colourful headscarf" -- long shot, but I hope it wasn't the Shaky Lady!

3 comments:

  1. I believe these litter-bugs are well aware they are doing something inappropriate. They just don't like it being pointed out to them by a stranger.

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  2. Speaking as one of said Concerned Friends, I must say your decision to move to Halifax may have saved your life.

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  3. I'm sure the litter-bugs are well aware they are behaving "inappropriately". The aggression stems from having a stranger pointing it out to them.

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