Maybe their mothers didn’t make them clean up their room

Maybe their mothers didn’t make them clean up

Short commentary Dec. 6, 2012

By Rick Wade
Look, don’t get me wrong. I was young once.

I have not always been this old curmudgeon complaining about such nonsense as a neighbor whose junk outside his house rivals the rubble from Hurricane Sandy.

So I admit: I have done plenty of stupid stuff on the road to adulthood. I have been rude, anti-social, messy, irresponsible, you name it. I have broken things I should not have broken.

But that’s another story.
What’s bugging me today are the empty beer bottles lying about our downtown city streets.

Come Mondays, it’s a guarantee there will be a cast-off beer bottle or two in the parking places along the street where I park, right there next to the church with a view of the “Million Dollar Courthouse.”

There are usually partially-smoked, crushed cigarette butts scattered all around the beer bottles, too, so it’s safe to assume that the illegal drinkers (or their coughing friends) are the smoking litterers.

It only took one exploding beer bottle for me to be on the watch for these usually brown glass IEDs (that’s improvised exploding device, for those of you who did not notice there’s a war still going on) waiting to explode underneath the tires of an unsuspecting auto on its way to work.

I’ve been lucky so far; no flats.

I am told by people more observant than I am that bottles and butts are regularly tossed into the planters out front of the businesses on the Square.

Tossing debris on the ground (of any kind, really) shows such a callous disregard for your friends and neighbors who shelled out hard-earned money for our streets and sidewalks, or purchased an automobile. Somewhere inside the act is complete disdain for the unwritten rules of behavior most members of a community adhere to almost unconsciously, and an utter lack of willingness to accept responsibility for one’s actions.

I would just like to say to those of you sitting out there in the dark on the curb behind your favorite bar, smoking your GPCs, sloshing down the last few swallows of warm beer that was so vital you had to smuggle it out of the bar, here is what I think … not that anybody asked.

First: It behooves bar and restaurant owners to closely monitor any patrons who attempt to take alcohol in bottles and cans out of their establishments. These businesses are some of the first places hungry and thirsty tourists and other visitors to town go. The general appearance of the area is marred by empty and broken booze bottles and cigarettes. First impressions are lasting, as some say.

The people who market alcohol bear some, but nowhere near the majority, of the responsibility for patrons who leave with beer bottles they purchased in the establishment.

A smoking area out back with a trash receptacle and a large sand-filled pot for ashes (and better monitoring of exits) would not be expensive, and it would show some civic pride.

Second: It’s littering. It’s against the law. So is consuming alcohol on the streets. You know that. So just stop it. There are places provided for both of these legal activities, but the streets of Carlinville are not those places.

Third: You are ruining things for the people who do not abuse the privilege of consuming alcohol, and use our city streets without tossing their debris for somebody else to deal with. Not only that, the bars you frequent? Is this how you show your appreciation for their services?

So many times laws and restrictions are put in place because the minority, not the majority, abuse their freedoms. Just like in grade school, when the entire class got punished for the acts of a few, it’s not right.

The arrogance that gives people the idea the world should pick up after them is astounding.

Maybe their mothers never made them clean their rooms. Or, heck, maybe they still live with their mothers. I don’t know.

But it’s not just these boozed up litterbugs. It’s the people who toss their regular trash into the recycling receptacle. It’s the people who dump the old couches and chairs and you-name-it along rural roads around here.

Maybe it’s all of us, who don’t really know (or care?) what happens to the waste each and every one of us produce every day and leave for someone else to deal with.

There are many people in this city trying to make it a more attractive place to live, visit, work and play. The longer we allow those who don’t care to clutter up our world, the more you and I will have to follow behind them, cleaning up their messes — and paying for that privilege to boot!

We all have better things to be doing than that, don’t we?