Pride of Place

The duplex I live in is a darling little home: my living space has blond wood floors, windows with sunlight streaming in every room, a warm wall color (not the garish, institutional white that will drive a person to madness, but a light latte color… maybe one shot of espresso in 16 ounces of whole milk?), a cheerful yellow kitchen, and just enough space for my belongings.

My neighbors, on the other hand, leave much to be desired. Garbage, decrepit vehicles, furniture, lawn mowers, and pleather dining room chairs adorn their yard. The front garden bursts with colors only plastic flowers can radiate. Since the occupants of the neighboring house exceed their own parking space, their guests spill over to the space front of my house. And yes, every time one of their guests opens a vehicle door, garbage falls out. Or broken glass. On occasion, the vehicle occupants sit in their car and smoke, dumping cigarette butts in my yard and along the sidewalk. Guests of my neighbors walk through my yard spitting out gum and dropping litter as they go. And my neighbors have no idea why I insist they put their dogs in the house after an hour of non-stop barking.

Yes, I asked repeatedly that neither my neighbors nor their guests park in front of my house. A small success I grant you, but they now park one car length away… and still, leave me their garbage.

So I have two choices: walk past, leave their garbage in my yard and mutter, “I’m only here for a little while and since no one cares anyway, I don’t either. I can’t keep up with all this garbage.”

Or, I can remember one of my MT Tech professors who named himself Chair of the DogSh*t Committee and went down the alleyway picking up dog-doo. Note: he does not own a dog. At first, it was just him picking up dog-doo. But over time, little by little, other neighbors started tidying up bits and pieces until one day the alleyway looked good. An alleyway looked good!

So I pick up the garbage. And the cigarette butts. And lest you think I preach at you, know that I probably mutter to myself as I do it. Given a choice between living with the garbage of those who do not know better or do not care, or cleaning up their garbage and loving my space, I choose the latter.

My microscopic example is nothing compared to the work of people cleaning up others’ garbage around the world. As frustrating as the relentless torrent of garbage is, I promise you are making a difference.

Take pride in your place. Do not give up. Do not give in to the garbage. There is work to do, so do good work.

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