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What it means when a dog won’t make eye contact …

It’s not normal to be seen on a public sidewalk with a two foot length of smashed car bumper under your left arm. It tends to draw attention to the two heaping bags of trash in your hand.

No wonder a woman and her dog sought the refuge/barrier on the opposite side of a large, thick tree at the very moment I passed them on Sharon View Road. When you can’t get a dog to make eye contact, well, you know you’ve hit rock bottom as a social pariah. I get it. Such avoidance is nothing new; other pedestrians regularly dodge me like the plague.

Nothing says crazy (insert another adjective here) like picking up litter. But by this point in time I’ve learned to embrace my anti-normal behavior.

But you want to know what’s really crazy? This is crazy:

  • The average American generates 4.3 pounds of waste per day. This is 1.6 pounds more than most produced back in 1960. (Duke Center for Sustainability and Commerce)
  • Approximately 55 percent of 220 million tons of waste generated each year in the United States ends up in one of the over 3,500 landfills. (Duke Center for Sustainability and Commerce)
  • The U.S. recycles only 34.3 percent of our waste vs. 63 percent in Germany, 62 percent in Austria, 58 percent in Belgium, 51 percent in Australia and 49 percent in Sweden. (Environmental Protection Agency and European Environment Agency)
  • In Japan, less than five percent of waste is landfilled.
  • With less than 5 percent of world population, the U.S. uses one-third of the world’s paper, a quarter of the world’s oil, 23 percent of the coal, 27 percent of the aluminum, and 19 percent of the copper. (Scientific American)
  • National Geographic’s Greendex found that American consumers rank last of 17 countries surveyed in regard to sustainable behavior. Furthermore, the study found that U.S. consumers are among the least likely to feel guilty about the impact they have on the environment, yet they are near to top of the list in believing that individual choices could make a difference. (As reported in Scientific American)

That, folks, is pure American lunacy. Now I don’t feel so bad about being shunned by a dog.


It was too windy to dump the contents of today’s bags on the driveway since there were lots of small chunks of polystyrene I didn’t want to blow all over the place. Who could blame a woman to use a tree as a partition between her and me?

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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