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Following the Trash

First it was a plastic bag, floating spastically on the wacky currents. Then it was a newspaper ad, whipping back and forth and finally settling down in the grass. Another bag, another piece of paper… where was it all coming from?

As I caught up with the traffic in front of me, I saw that there was a “Waste Management” truck leaking its wretched refuse through a hole in its top. Every few seconds, a remnant would escape and dance on the choppy draft as though announcing, “Free at last! Free at last!” before falling to the ground and becoming part of the roadside landscape.

At first I was mad, but soon found myself becoming mesmerized by the scene, waiting for the next prisoner to make a run for it. I thought if I got close enough I might see a little toy soldier up there reaching down into the hole to help the next one out….  I guess I saw “Toy Story 3” too many times.

I wasn’t really on my way anywhere. I was just riding around trying to decide where to go to kill some time, so when the trash truck pulled into a shopping center I automatically followed it, going wherever it led me, hypnotically unaware that this wasn’t where I’d intended to go.

When I snapped out of my trance, it occurred to me that this is just what’s been happening to Americans lately. We’ve lost all sense of direction and seem willing to follow whoever says “I know the way — follow me!” the loudest. I had so aimlessly followed the trail of trash that I had completely lost my bearings and had no idea where I was.

I, too, had been seduced by the steady stream of garbage being fed to the citizens of our country by politicians whose greatest aim is to mesmerize the voters with bags emptied of their gleaming promises and flashy newspaper and TV ads that dump rubbish about their opponents all over our once fruited plain. America has become one big spewing trash truck, and like the characters in TS3, we’re all just being dragged along the conveyor belt toward the incinerator, like the Tennessee man whose house burned to the ground while the fire department watched because the man had an unpaid $75.00 fee outstanding.

When did Americans get so “trashy”? When did we decide that loving your neighbor as yourself was only valid if that neighbor could show his papers, or prove that he’d paid his bill in order to prevent his life story from going up in flames? When did we decide that people who can get themselves on TV for any reason are worthy of copious monetary compensation and  our undying adulation while people who get up every morning and work long into the night are not worth the measly $7.25 per hour we grudgingly offer them?

Little Trixie is pissed. She’s been having tantrums all day. This is her future I’m talking about and it’s hard raising her to believe that there are still good people in the world — kind, considerate, compassionate people — when all she sees as she rides along in her tiny car seat is all this crap whipping by her window.

So when you see the trash start flying, don’t just get mesmerized by it. Follow that truck until you catch up with it and tell the driver to SHUT HIS HOLE!

Thank you very much. Today’s public service announcement is brought to you by sugar, caffeine, and too much unsupervised time.

  1. rachel
    October 9, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    Great piece! Came across your blog after I read your comment to one of my posts… enjoy your writing style… looking forward to reading more!

  2. Ted
    October 23, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    Wait,…where did you read this? “like the Tennessee man whose house burned to the ground while the fire department watched because the man had an unpaid $75.00 fee outstanding.” That is criminal in most states. As a NH Volunteer Firefighter, I would have expected a court visit after an act such as failing to provide assistance at a fire scene. A portion of your tax base pays for such assistance and if the fire department in which those taxes supported fails to deliver the goods, as instructed by required NFPA and NH Fire Standards and Training, we would be found grossly negligent in our appointed duties. This is a very sad. Oh,… and when did you become a garbage truck chaser? Good Piece.

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