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An old truism comes full circle … the samaritan and a bottle …

Back in the ’60s and’70s (I was there so I know) counterculturists stated the obvious: ‘If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.’ This was applied liberally to many causes including anti-war protests, race relations, dealing with ‘the man’, women’s liberation and just about anything protest worthy.

You might be asking yourself, ‘how’s that any different from today?’ Indeed, it’s a truism that has stood the test of time – and has come full circle.

Yet there was one shining moment on this particular walk that gave me hope.

Okay, Wednesday’s two hour and 10 minute, six mile excursion might have been more than the surgeon authorized during my recovery and rehab. But hey, I went slow. That should count for something.

After days of unrelenting rain, I celebrated by exploring new sidewalks that would offer plenty of sunshine. Before long, the debris field and litter were as expected: widespread. and profuse (profane?). I never cease to wonder what goes through the pea brains of slobs when they toss stuff out – or allow it to simply lay there. Maybe nothing is going through their minds.

Most of my under-the-breath-wrath is directed to the perps; they shouldn’t trash or litter along our roadways.

But there’s a second party that silently abets such slobbery: people who see the problem but don’t do anything about it beyond perhaps to grouse or bitch.

My contention, for quite a while now, is that if everyone pitched in, if everyone would pick up one or two things on their daily constitutionals, our byways would be that much better off. A couple of years ago I ran into one couple who told me of their trash prowess; but I’ve never seen them again on the route I take every day at virtually the same time. So much for stick-to-itiveness.

Yet there are those good souls who adopt the mantra of neighborhood cleanliness.

Fairly early in my slow northbound walk along the east side of Sharon Road adjacent to the walled in and fabulously wealthy enclave of Foxcroft, two women walked briskly toward and then by me. We exchanged pleasant hellos.


Trash lurks everywhere – even along the ivy-lined walkways of arguably one of Charlotte’s finest neighborhoods. Litter problems are blind to demographic boundaries.

But their gait was considerably faster than my trash-interrupted pace. They must’ve turned around at Fairview Road and doubled back; they were now headed in my direction and for the 100 yards or so that I was within their sight line, they’d obviously seen me stop to pick up this or that.

I didn’t hear them approach from behind (thank God I wasn’t talking aloud) and when they did scoot on by, one said “Thank you for keeping the neighborhood clean.” I returned the ‘thank you’ and it wasn’t 30 yards later that one of the women made a bee-line for something that lay in the grass several yards from the sidewalk. It was a broken beer bottle. It was now in her hand. I said semi-loudly ‘thanks!’ but at that instant traffic was zooming by and the pair had roared away at their fast clip.

We’ll never know if this samaritan has a habit of picking up after others. But what I do know is retrieving half of a beer bottle is better than nothing. At that moment, she became part of the solution.

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.

1 Comment on An old truism comes full circle … the samaritan and a bottle …

  1. elizabethbradford // April 27, 2017 at 1:37 pm // Reply

    I love this one. Gonna share it.

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