Some time last year, I was giving my friend Jared a ride to the train station from work. As we approached a red light at the corner of Shoreline Road and Marine World Parkway in Belmont, the driver of the car in front of us casually threw a handful of trash out her window. Stunned, I said to Jared, “Did that lady just throw trash onto the street?” but Jared was already half way out of the car.
I figured, “Good for Jared. He’ll throw it away when we get to the train station. Maybe the driver will see him picking it up and feel guilty.” So Jared gets back in the car with the trash and we get to another red light, with the same car in front of us. Jared gets out again and goes up to her window. The exchange, as it was later described to me, went something like this:
Jared: Excuse me. I think you dropped this.
Litter Lady: Fuck you.
Jared hands the lady her trash and gets back in my car. Then the lady gets out of her car and comes up to my car on the driver side. I don’t roll down the window but she’s yelling loud enough for me to hear her justification for just throwing garbage out her window:
Litter Lady: I work for the garbage company. If you don’t believe me, you can call them. My dad is the manager.
Then she gets back into her car. When the light turns green, she peels out through the intersection and again throws the trash out her window.
So here’s what gets me. It’s no surprise that people litter, or that they get upset when you call them on it. But this woman actually justified littering because she works for the garbage company (which I think is true, because BFI is on Shoreway Road). For a moment, I thought maybe it was some sort of official garbage experiment, but if that were the case, I think the official BFI garbage planter would have thanked Jared for his good citizenship and explained the situation. Instead, this incredibly stupid woman actually gave away her identity in declaring her impunity. Furthermore, she implicated her father, supposedly the manager of BFI San Mateo, as parent and manager to a litterer.
I’m glad Jared was there because I would’ve just done what my dad taught me to do when people litter out of their cars — honk my horn, say “Jerk”, and get on with life. Now I have a story I can tell.