Reputation Problems

February 10th, 2008
Beer Can on a Lawn

I confess to some ambivalence about the reputation I’ve developed among my neighbors. I’m now known as “that guy who walks down the street with a can of beer in his hand—at ten o’clock in the morning.”

It’s remarkable how often I fit their description. With more than a bit of glee, I also admit that it’s a great conversation starter. Just today, as the couple who live across the street were backing out of their driveway, I was able to give them a cheerful salute with a sixteen-ounce can of Miller Lite. They winked at me.

Moments later, I toasted another neighbor who commented that I was “getting an early start.” I gave him my heartiest “Go Gators!” cheer.

There’s just one hitch: I haven’t had the pleasure of having actually drunk the beer. The can I was carrying today, like those every other morning, was one I’ve picked up from someone’s lawn—very likely the property of someone trying to sell his house.

I don’t go out looking for litter; if I did, it would keep me pretty busy. But occasionally, when the weather is making me feel particularly smug about having moved here from Connecticut, and if I happen to see a can on someone’s lawn, I’ll bring it home and add it to my recyclable bin. The fellows who come by to pick up our recyclable trash have yet to say anything about the volume of our aluminum contribution, but I think it’s only a matter of time…

I did the same thing back up north. But—small-town Yankees being who they are—people seemed blind to my altruism but wide-eyed at the prospect that I was a more-than-social drinker.

Here in my Sarasota neighborhood, I seem to be most productive on the streets near the hospital, between Osprey and Orange. Perhaps it’s a measure of the relative quiet here, that those bent on littering find these unpoliced streets with plenty of nice homes for sale a convenient place to toss their empties.

I confess that I too, enjoy tossing the odd bit of litter out the window of a moving car. However, I try to confine myself to organic matter like apple cores and banana peels. It’s sort of fun…I think of it as compost in motion.

Probably it would be best if no one threw anything out of any vehicle. But if someone felt the overwhelming urge, well then, if it were, say, a bottle of Belgian lambic rather than a 16oz. tallboy, I might be more tolerant. And who knows, maybe one day, someone will toss out a full one. When that day comes, I promise, I’ll dispose of it properly.


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