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Polystyrene armageddon…

Sunday, Feb. 9

Out the door at 6:19 a.m., hot French Roast coffee in hand.

The birds, cardinals in particular, must know something about the coming change of seasons that we don’t; unlike the prior weeks and cold winter months that stifled their sweet voices, their singing is now elevated and lively.

Their accompaniment is a good way to start my jaunt.

That bubble was burst quickly. Not 50 yards onto Sharon View, a polystyrene to-go box sits against the curb. It’s full of leftovers. Looks like Chinese; General Lao chicken or something like that. I empty the contents into the bushes. Something will eat it.

The rest of Sharon View is clean save for a few shards of plastic and paper. But as I swing northward onto Colony, there’s immediate trouble. A small trail of polystyrene beads are swirling down the sidewalk. Another 20 yards up the concrete lays the source of the contamination; an enormous block of polystyrene that has been tossed out and hit the ground very hard. It has shed other chunks and pieces. It’s a cheap polystyrene best (sic) used as packing material. It crumbles readily, and this morning it has done just that. I stoop to conquer.

The sordid contents on full display. It really does drive me crazy to see how careless and stupid that portions of our populace can be.

The sordid contents on full display. You can’t see all the polystyrene because the pieces are too small. But even small pieces are too much to be left behind. It really does drive me crazy to see how careless and stupid that portions of our populace can be.

The mother chunk is so large it won’t fit easily in the bag. I first dump out the Gen. Lao box and the few other bits of litter then wedge the big one into the bottom of the bag. For the next 10 minutes, I grovel to pick up as much as I can, including individual polystyrene beads; even one of those I might miss is too much for me. They assemble and gather in small eddies in the light wind. I moisten my fingers and palm in an effort to pick up the greatest number of pieces in one swipe of the pavement. That is only marginally effective. My apologies to those trying to sleep in adjoining condos. I’ve dropped F-bombs before, but now they fall like rain. I’m really pissed.

The bag and the mat. I've picked up larger loads, but perhaps none as irritating.

The bag and the mat. I’ve picked up larger loads, but perhaps none as irritating.

By now the bag is two-thirds full. It’s going to be a two bag day. Unfortunately, I have only one bag.

There’s more polystyrene to be found. Several cups and random strips and pieces of the white irritant fill the bag. Coors Light and Pepsi cans join the pile. What pushes me over the top – more F-bombs – is a clear plastic lid to an empty cardboard plate. The plastic won’t compress and the bag is now to the bursting point. I shift to Plan B; no paper will be picked up but no plastic will be left behind. The bag stays in my left hand, additional plastic in my right. I just can’t let plastic go unpicked up. The final indignity is an in-tact car floor mat. Why the hell does someone toss out a floor mat?

The home stretch of Sharon View is relatively clean and for that I am glad. I don’t know where I would have put more junk. But where there’s a will, there’s a way.

About Dave Bradley (264 Articles)
I was a writer by trade so one would think letters would come easily for me. It is so now, but wasn't always that way. Indeed, the first letter was written the Monday after Ellen started her freshman year in college. For years I've wondered - with no good answers - why I swiveled my office chair toward my computer screen to fire up a word processing document for that first letter. I just don't know. I just did. Perhaps it was the angst of separation or wanting to say things that had gone unsaid at that moment when we parted ways in front of her college dormitory. What was a one-off became habitual. When her brother Reid enrolled in the same college, his name was added to the salutation line. They were kids then and are adults now. No matter. The letter writing habit remains so today. I live in Brevard, North Carolina. I'm well away from where they live and don't see them nearly as often as I'd like. That's why letters, at least to me, fill the void of distance. The pages give me something to say and the space to say it. There is no assurance they read the letters; indeed, I have never asked if they do so. With the pace of their busy lives who could blame them for letting a letter sit unopened? Over time, it has dawned on me that the letters are both communicative - and cathartic. By nature, letters are about the writer; the writer can only write about their situation. Perhaps that is as it should be. It's all about the here and now from one person's perspective.

2 Comments on Polystyrene armageddon…

  1. Does the city of Charlotte receive your blog about the trash on your walks?

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