Headless Heroes, Car-crash Residue and Styrofoam Peanuts
As part of Seton Hill University’s “Labor of Love” (a day of community action and volunteerism), about 150 people showed up on campus for breakfast, a pep rally and the send-off. Some went to a food back, a mom’s shelter, and various other sites (some of them on campus, which seems to defeat the purpose of the event, but I digress).
I ended up with a big trash bag on the highway outside St. Emma Monastery. What did I pick up?
- Mangled action figures. Torsos. Limbs. Little plastic backpacks. I can hear a little boy crying, and I can hear his exasperated father saying, “If you’d listened to me when I told you not to hold your toys out the window, you wouldn’t be crying now.”
- Auto-accident debris. The cap from a flare. Bits of red and yellow reflectors. Bits of chrome and rubber. Whoever got into the accident was probably upset, possibly injured, and certainly distracted. Once I was bringing a bag of recyclables across the street when an inattentive driver smashed into my bag and then sent me up over the hood and into the next lane. I wasn’t hurt, but the mall rent-a-cop made me pick up all the glass. I see a teenager racing home to beat curfew and a trucker on a two-week cross-country haul; I see a fender-bender, or worse; and I see the stunned look of someone with more important things to think about than picking up trash.
- Scores of styrofoam peanuts. I picture someone enjoying a new mail-order MP3 player, or a silver picture frame from Aunt Begonia. I picture that someone rolling down the window, holding the box lid closed so the peanuts won’t blow back into the car, and then letting go. With each peanut I pick up, I say a prayer for the stupid little sh*t.