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Viewer discretion advised …

The photos contained herein were never suggested as anything other than disgusting, revolting, upsetting shots of litter depravity. The close ups reveal all manner of sordidness, filth, slobbery and wastefulness.

Duh. That’s why the photos are taken: to reveal all of the above and then some. My theory is people aren’t moved to action by words alone. They’ve got to get the whole sickening visual experience to develop a revulsion of their own. As broadcasters say, some viewer discretion is advised.

Yet the images intended to disgust don’t just apply to visitors to these pages.

When people begin to date each other, there comes a time when early stage relationship niceties and testing-the-waters tête-à-tête give way to more candid detail about personal lives and interests. So it was on a recent date with a woman I will call “Joyce.”

Okay, so these sort of photos aren't part of the recipe of dating. But I believe in the cause of keeping our environment clean very deeply. That outweighs a lot of things for me.

Okay, so these sort of photos aren’t part of the recipe of dating. But I believe in the cause of keeping our environment clean very deeply. That outweighs a lot of things for me.

She professed to be a naturalist of sorts; kayaker, backpacker, exerciser, lover of animals. It all sounded so promising. My assumption was she’d be at least tolerant of my ‘hands on’ environmental approach since she already seemed attuned to that sort of thing.

We agreed to take a walk on the relatively neutral ground of a greenbelt early one lovely Saturday. Not 400 yards into our quick-paced stroll, an empty water bottle came into view. That I would make a momentary stop to pick up the plastic was BAU to me but seemed to startle her. She wondered aloud why I’d bother to do such a nasty thing. For good measure, she tossed in “the look.”

Our brief conversation went something like this:

Joyce: Isn’t that yucky? You pick that junk up with your hands?

Me: Yeah. But I wash them right away when I’m done.

I dunno. Maybe she thought we’d hold hands as this pathway tango progressed. Perhaps to her way of thinking I was defending the indefensible at least in the early dating sense.

I said something else about this being important and an environmental step anyone can do. Not leaving well enough alone, I barged ahead to tell her about this blog and how I’d photograph for posterity what I’d find and how much there was of it.

There was more silence. When our walk came to a merciful conclusion (roughly 30 minutes shorter than our negotiated 90 minutes, which is code for ‘I’m done with you, pal’), she got in her Audi and I plopped two water bottles and another bit of plastic in the trunk of my car. I retreated into the Starbucks hence we started, washed my hands and got a refill of decaf. So endeth a budding relationship.

Sure, it would have been easier to just keep walking and leave litter undisturbed. However, that would mean I would abandon, even momentarily, a practice I believe in very deeply. The stuff shouldn’t be there.

But I’ve figured out how to avoid going down the same primrose path with the next Joyce.

We won’t go for walks.

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.

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