Suburban Snapshots

Me When I'm Angry

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

We try really hard to get Anna to pick up after herself. Each time I get a pair of tiny underpants caught on my toe as I walk down the hallway, I have her toss them in her hamper. Whenever I find petrified raisins rammed between the couch cushions, I hand them to her and have her throw them away. After I dislodge animal-shaped barrettes from the soles of my feet, she'll return them to the bathroom drawer where they belong. These are basic lessons; clean up after yourself, be considerate of others. I don't know a mom who hasn't taught this over and over to her children just as soon as they achieve mobility.

So why is it that sale day at the Gap or any given Saturday at TJMaxx leaves these places looking like the aftermath of an L.A. riot? Why do I still see people nonchalantly hurl cigarette wrappers out of car windows? Who is the family that left four meals' worth of fast-food packaging in the middle of the parking lot? Who the crap empties their ashtray at a four-way stop? And when Anna and I go to the beach, why is it easier for her to find clothing and bottle caps than seashells?

I just can't begin to comprehend the thought process behind this kind of...laziness? Slovenliness? Pick your own 'ness,' I'm being much more forgiving in type than I am in my head. I judge whomever is forcing me to dig through a ransacked pile of jeans to find my size, which is normally conveniently located near the bottom. I judge the shoppers who have all stepped over a shirt laying on the floor without at least tossing it onto a nearby rack. I judge the guy who decided he didn't need ice cream and ditched it on the shelf next to some macaroni. I'd like to track down the owners of all the water bottles and plastic bags stuck between rocks at the beach and ask them to kindly recycle. 

Last weekend a friend made fun of me for carrying around my empty, sticky, dribbly plastic cup as I chased Anna around the playground next to the farmers' market where I'd bought a smoothie an hour earlier. "I have to recycle it," I told her, when she alerted me to the many barrels marked "Recycling" scattered around the market. I don't walk around attracting flies because it gives me a sense of satisfaction or superiority (though it does make me look pretty sexy). I do it because I really believe we've got to take care of what's ours, that ultimately we share our stuff and our space with a whole shitload of other people.

I do it to set a good example for my kid, and I can't imagine that there are parents — any humans — who don't know the value of being considerate.

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