Earlier tonight, Henry and I walked out of the house for our nightly walk and I made eye contact with a kid just as he littered a plastic cup near my sidewalk and he quickly went back and picked it up, YEAH THAT’S RIGHT. I was prepared to say some shit about it too so he’s lucky. We walked behind him and his posse for a bit and I was happy to watch him throw his trash in a garbage can.
Still, this really set me off and poor Henry had to endure a 30 minute rant on littering and how I just don’t understand how some people are able to just toss their refuse onto the ground and walk away like it’s no big thing. If their parents never actually told them this is wrong, then that tells me they probably learned to litter by watching their trashy parents litter.
I have been known to go off on a litterer a time or two in my life.
Once was when I engaged in verbal fisticuffs with a teen who chucked her empty pack of cigarettes in front of my house while I was sitting on the porch and I told her to pick it up and she actually gave me push-back and I scanned her face intently trying to figure out if she was at least 18 in case I needed to yank her head back by her hair. I remember this so vividly because it was 2000 and I was waiting for my friend to pick me up for the Tool concert and when he found out that I had an actual argument with some probably-15-year-old, he was like, “YOU DIDN’T HIT HER DID YOU?! YOU COULD GO TO JAIL FOR THAT, DUMBASS.”
(No, I didn’t hit her. But I did win the City Girl Swear volley and she ended up picking that shit up.)
And don’t just think Americans litter, you guys. In 1992, we hosted a French foreign exchange student named Laurent and he annoyed me for a myriad of reasons but one was when he purposely let a McDonald’s straw wrapper fly out the car window on the way to the zoo. I was in the backseat behind his French ass and I leaned in real close to yell, “HEY I DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY DO IN YOUR COUNTRY, BUT IN MINE, WE DON’T LITTER” as if America isn’t full of pigs. Oh man, my mom was so mad at me because there goes Erin, making the French kid cry again.
(He cried so much that summer.)
But I think my crowning glory was when I ratted on an actual cop for littering, wanna hear it, here it goes:
It was the middle of a lazy May afternoon in Hamilton, Ohio, 2007. Christina and I were lounging around her room and I was making her cry by talking about how I hate God. I suppose I should have been penciling in a time for church in my day planner since “He” evidently spared our lives the night before when we got caught in the midst of a hail storm on our way from Pittsburgh to Ohio. It was probably the single most terrifying moment of my life and it took place right after I had been talking about Hell.
Over top of Christina’s mighty exaltation for her love of all things Christ, I heard the squelch of a siren from behind her house. We ran over to the window and discovered that there were two police officers on the street behind her house and they had pulled over a man in a truck. It seemed like it was just a traffic violation and I was quickly becoming bored. Luckily, I hung around long enough to witness the most appalling act of crime I have ever seen with these hazel eyes.
The officers were beginning to wrap things up and as the one cop made to get into the passenger side of the patrol car, he poured out the remainders of a can of what appeared to be Pepsi and then deliberately tossed the empty can into Christina’s back yard.
“Oh no he didn’t!” I exclaimed to Christina, right before shaping a makeshift megaphone with my hands and shouting “LITTERER!” and then ducking, leaving Christina framed alone in the window looking like the sole perpetrator.
Stomping over to her bed, I grabbed my shoes and sat down hard.
“What are you doing?” Christina asked nervously.
“I’m going out there.” I walked out of the bedroom and bounded down the steps, leaving her pleas in a cloud of my dust. She caught up with me before I made it to the back door and grabbed my arms.
“Look, I really don’t think going out there is a good idea. The cops around here are dicks.” She had thrown herself between me and the door so I knew she meant business. I walked dejectedly back into her kitchen as she explained to me that her neighborhood is kind of bad and that the cops are always looking for a reason to, well, be cops and that she really didn’t want to have to make that call to Henry.
“Henry!” I exclaimed in remembrance of my boy-toy in Pittsburgh. “Let’s call him for legal counsel.” And of course he wasn’t home. I left a message and that dickshitter never called back because he figured it was “something stupid” I was calling about, as I would later learn.
The cops had left by then, leaving me alone with a heightened sense of extreme community failure. I didn’t want it be over yet so I continued pacing and spouting vulgarities until I finagled Christina into calling the police station. “We have their patrol car number! Do it, Christina, for all of us civilians. And the environment. It’s God’s will.” I knew that would clinch it.
Christina finally relented, only because she didn’t want me making the call because supposedly I’m too “hot-headed.” But I would have used words like ‘reprehensible’ and ‘detestable’ to convey to the sergeant how appalled I truly was. And I would have thrown in the words ‘law’ and ‘suit’ somewhere in between mention of dying babies and that our earth is God’s playground (HAHA).
But Christina still wouldn’t hand over the phone; she was eventually dispatched through to Sgt. Ebbing (a man I will never forget, bless his heart). Explaining the complaint, she actually said, “Sir, I know this may seem trivial.”
Excuse me, trivial? Are you kidding? That prick littered in her back yard. He did something that people like us would get fined for. Oh, I was livid. She was being too nice and congenial during the phone call and my body was burning. I started to envision what would have happened if I had managed to get out of her house while the cops were still there. They don’t scare me.
This was when I decided that I really, truly, and legitimately hated that littering officer. My ears were roaring with the sound of large, wavering sheets of metal and my heart was pounding like I had just run ten yards after ingesting fourteen fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches and an eight ball. I imagined scratching his face (out of malice, not passion) and striking his nose with the heel of my palm in an upward motion, just like Mr. Miyagi taught me. Then I would retrieve his discarded aluminum can and crush it against his jock.
Oh heaven, I have finally reached you through my fantasies.
Christina ended the call and jolted me out of my daydream. She explained to me that Sgt. Ebbing was going to call her back once he reprimanded the officers and that he also informed her that she could go to the courthouse and file for a citation, to which she said would not be necessary (I would have done it – fuck the police). I felt a tiny bit reassured and calmer but Christina was a little leery that Sgt. Ebbing had asked for her full name and address. “I’m a pot head! What if they’re going to be watching me now?”
“What do I care? I live in Pittsburgh.” And then I laughed. And if you know me, you know that laugh, and are probably wanting to bitch-slap me just at the mere thought of it.
In the meantime, we called Henry to fill him in. “You didn’t go out there, did you?” was the first utterance from his fat mouth.
I began to feel a complex developing and asked, “No, I didn’t go out there but would it really have been so bad if I had?”
“Uh, yeah!” he answered. “With your temper? I don’t need to be bailing you out of jail.” I have to say I’m a little insulted that I’m not trusted to handle situations such as this one on my own. But Christina was happy because Henry shared in her apprehension.
Sgt. Ebbing called back about two hours later (presumably because he was banging broads in the drunk tank), at which time Christina’s sister Cynthia answered the phone and yelled to Christina, “I don’t fucking know who it is!” The sergeant (I don’t trust him, by the way; I think he’s a cocksucker to be honest with you) relayed the disciplinary action that was sanctioned, and might I add it only entailed asking the officers if it was true and then telling them to come back and pick up the can.
But he lied to us and I know it. Sgt. Ebbing, you’re a lying cocksucker. He told Christina that the officer admitted to tossing the can, which was purportedly an “illegal can of beer” which was confiscated from the man who had been pulled over. In the midst of the confusion while they were making an arrest, it must have slipped the officer’s mind that he had littered.
Except that I didn’t see them make an arrest. I saw the man get back in his truck and leave. What did they say, “Just meet us at the station”? Oh, I don’t think so.
In other words, the sergeant wanted us to think that it was admirable of the officer to be honest about the littering, but at the same time he tried to make us feel guilty or ashamed that these men were in the throes of serving justice and that they should be excused of such a trivial act.
“I’m going out there to wait for them to come pick up the can,” I announced as I ran for the door. Christina came with me and we discovered that the can was no longer there. That asshole sergeant waited for them to come pick it up before calling back because he knew that I was about to get all Firestarter on their asses. I just know it!
I don’t feel like justice was served. And I didn’t get to swear at anybody.
But then Christina plied me with pie and the day quickly turned into “Sgt. Ebbing who now?”
MORAL: Don’t fucking let me catch you littering, better yet – JUST KEEP YOUR TRASH TO YOURSELF UNTIL YOU FIND A GARBAGE CAN. ASSHOLES.