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My worst fears are realized … my neighbor John hands me the goods … the mess that is Florida …

Today’s catch-all of litter news runs the gamut from the usual daily slog to my impressions of a dirty, filthy, trashy Florida.

And in a moment of rare good news as relates to trash, my neighbor John delivers on his pledge to help keep our neighborhood clean.

For as long as I’ve whined ad nauseam about litter, there is one trash calamity I fear above all others.

That dread relates to polystyrene. Once a chunk of it is crunched and mutilated and broken into however many pieces, there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle. Every last piece must be retrieved because it damned well shouldn’t be loose in the environment.

But the worst case scenario became plain as day this morning along Sharon and Sharon View Roads. The first chunks and shards came into view as soon as I turned south off Fairview Road onto Sharon. My back would be up against the wall.


This is the photo after Friday’s walk, but the Saturday morning haul (yet to be photographed) was worse still, from putridness perspective.

The defendant was a soft version of polystyrene, a form-fit type custom manufactured to fit and protect a fragile item inside a cardboard box. It’s made up of small BB-sized pellets that congeal into whatever shape the manufacturer decides upon.

The once large polystyrene form was smashed to smithereens. There were pieces as far as my poor vision could see. Worse yet, the poly had been windblown and/or pushed along by the jet stream of passing cars for hundreds of yards. Pieces as small as a penny and as large as salad plates couldn’t be left where they lay. There was no relief even as I turned left onto Sharon View Road.

My bag was already full but not even the smallest shards would be left behind. Where there’s a will there’s a way. The retrieval added an easy 15 minutes to my already chilly morning walk. People motoring past in their cars had to wonder “what the hell is that guy doing?” I wondered, too, but in stronger, audible terms.

There’s a guy in my neighborhood named John, and he invariably thanks me for picking up after others.

John is usually out walking his little dog and typically we chat for a moment when we cross paths. He always pledges to follow suit by picking up along the few blocks he and his pooch trod several times a day.

And Friday, for the first time, he had flotsam in his hands as we met. He said he finally made good on his oath. I opened my bag in which he proudly deposited a soda bottle and some polystyrene.

Maybe I’ve awoken a sleeping giant who will continue to pick up something, anything that he comes across.

If you think North Carolina is a mess of litter and trash, then you don’t want to see Florida

I spent a week in Deerfield Beach visiting with friends to play golf and unsuccessfully try to fish (high winds kept us off the ocean) so we occupied ourselves with other things that typically involved beverages, great food and ‘story telling.’

But we also walked. Now I like Florida well enough – not enough to live there – but there was one factor which made me double-down on the don’t-want-to-live-there pledge: it is the junkiest, most trash-strewn place I’ve ever visited.

Honestly, it was horrible. It seemed under every roadside bush or trapped along chain link fences were hundreds if not thousands of pounds of debris. Florida is still the only place I’ve witnessed slobs throwing trash out of cars. There was one 10 yard stretch off of Hillsboro Road that would fill a Harris Teeter bag in no time flat. Yes, there’s that much litter and junk.

My mobile phone rarely tags along on my rounds since a walk is unplugged time for me. In hindsight I wish it had come along to capture the litter mayhem and trashy depravity of Floridians. As it is, there are no photos to catalog what was witnessed. Even the I-95 corridor was strewn with anything and everything. It was utterly disgusting. That, along with the disgust of seeing Air Force One on the tarmac at the Palm Beach Airport and knowing the plane’s precious anti-environment cargo was golfing nearby, didn’t paint the prettiest picture of the Sunshine State.

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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