Tag Archives: Litter

Citizen activists

I’m so glad I decided to take the bus home today.

This was a departure from my usual trip by subway.  As I left the hospital, I noticed a bus that stops a mere fifty feet from my building’s front door.  Hopping on, I knew that the trip would take a little longer, but it seemed a nice change of pace to ride above ground.  That, and I avoided the awful elevators at the subway station.

I quietly read this week’s edition of The Economist at the back of the bus for the majority of the trip.  I was startled out of an article about Robert Mugabe, however, by a surprisingly stern and assertive woman’s voice.

“Sir. Sir! You shouldn’t throw your trash on the floor.”

I looked up and saw a middle-aged woman holding a copy of the New Yorker and dressed in a wide-brimmed hat and linen blouse, gesturing to a small paper carton lying at the feet of a nearby man who was sitting with his wife and child.

He mildly explained, “It wasn’t mine.  It was sitting on that seat.”

More than slightly irritated, she responded, “Well, who’s going to pick it up down there?”

I was surprised when he leaned over, picked up the paper carton, and set it back in the seat, evidently the same place he’d brushed it from just moments earlier.  And I was even more surprised when, a few stops later, he picked it up when departing the bus, presumably to throw it away in one of New York City’s many public litter baskets.

I half-wondered what this aggressive citizen would have done when confronted with the brazen olive oil double-dipper I described last year.

The best part is that I was able to surreptitiously snap a photo of her with my cell phone camera, while pretending to listen to messages.  I applaud you, Woman With A Wide Brimmed Hat Who Reads The New Yorker.

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Filed under Around town, The Economist