The other day, I was hanging the light fixture in the nursery, a room which affords a beautiful view of the street in front of our house. Up on a ladder, I was attempting to untangle a bunch of ancient fabric-covered wires without stripping too much of the insulation and torching our house, when a strange sound caught my attention, and I happened to glance down at the hedge that fronts our lawn. A water bottle had just landed at the base of the hedge, and the remainder of the water was illuminated by the afternoon sunlight as it sprayed from the top and fell back to earth. The fellow who had thrown the bottle continued walking up the street past the house, oblivious.
A few things flashed through my mind at that moment, the first few of which involved violence. I imagined picking up the bottle and throwing it directly at the back of his head. I had a clear image of the bottle in my fist as it connected with his solar plexus. I could see how snugly one of our garbage cans fit his body as I brought it down over his shoulders, our household refuse mingling with his hair and staining his work shirt.
Instead, my feet landed on the floor of the room and in the low bark I learned from my father, I yelled at him to pick the bottle back up at a volume that stopped him in his tracks. He motioned the inability to hear me, and I repeated myself clearly: PICK THAT BOTTLE UP OFF MY LAWN. He peered up at the house, waved weakly at it, then said, “I’m sorry, Mister,” and retrieved his bottle from the grass. I don’t suppose he could see me clearly, but the voice yelling at him from the house clearly spooked the shit out of him. If he’d seen his conscience in the flesh, he may not have been so conciliatory—I’d guess he outweighed me by a hundred or so pounds—but he was the soul of contrition to the Voice Of God.
In retrospect, I don’t know what made me angrier, the fact that he was littering, or the fact that it was my lawn. I personally can’t stand litter, and the idea of simply throwing something out the window or on the ground as I’m walking does not compute. I suppose it’s fitting, then, that I own a house on a minor thoroughfare where litter tends to be swept up by the wind and into our bushes so that I can clean it up. I’m not the tidiest of homeowners. I don’t have thousands to spend on weekly landscaping, and my bushes aren’t perfectly manicured. But that doesn’t mean it’s OK to finish half a bottle of water and toss it into my yard. What is it with people?