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The one true path …

When I’m not trudging the streets impersonating one of the extras in The Walking Dead, a few weekend hours are often spent swatting a small white ball (maddeningly all too often) around a local golf course.

On Saturday, I headed to Edgewater, a fine course not too far west of Lancaster, South Carolina. As area drivers know, there’s usually no easy way to get anywhere; notably no grids of straight North-South roads you might find in the Midwest.

I headed down I-77 toward Hwy. 9, a roughly 40 mile route with theoretically the fewest stops and the least amount of traffic. That’s pretty much how it worked out. It was a relatively delightful cruise.

Until I got to Hwy. 9. If you ever want to see a roadway where litterbugs reign supreme, this 17 mile stretch of road east toward Lancaster is for you. I mean, it is absolutely appalling and stunning in the sheer magnitude of the debris field. Mile after mile of junk and plastic and bottles and polystyrene and fast food wrappers. To name a few. You name it, it can be found here. There aren’t enough trash bags or work crews to contain this mess. Ironically, you can see a big billboard along southbound I-77 somewhere between miles 88 – 85 that admonishes travelers: “Don’t trash our state.” What they really need is the same billboard every half mile on every road statewide to drive the point home. Or is it that they can’t read?

My Saturday haul was typical by my standards. But given the sheer volume of trash along Hwy. 9 west of Lancaster, SC, this wouldn't even be a good start.

This Saturday haul was typical by my standards. But given the sheer volume of trash along Hwy. 9 west of Lancaster, SC, this wouldn’t even be a good start.

I often unmercifully grind on slovenly South Cackalackians and this sad stretch of road did nothing to change my opinion. It made me pine for my little path in Southpark. I wish I’d had the discipline to stop for a photo – I rue now that I didn’t – since I was already running late to make my tee time.

Beyond solidifying my belief about the scope and breath of the litter problem in South Carolina (and the U.S. in general) it simply overwhelmed my sense of how I can truly help. I can’t park my car and walk the length of Hwy. 9; or the length of Rte. 521 back to Charlotte or any of the other roads and streets I come across, regardless of city or state. There weren’t enough trash bags or stowage space in my Camry to handle even a quarter mile of this blight.

The best I can do is to return to my one true path. That’s the only one I can do anything about.

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 The one true path …

  1. Dave, thanks for all you do. You might want to publicize that both NC and SC have Swat-A-Litterbug programs (just google for info) where you can report persons throwing trash/cigarette butts from cars, either online or by phone. In Mecklenburg County all you have to do is call 311. The Charlotte Checkers show a video advertisement about this at every home game.

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