the circular runner

My Crime Against the Rich and Famous

In humor, life, observations, writing on February 20, 2012 at 6:41 am

I’m old. It’s official. It’s not just the achy back or the sore legs after a long run. It’s the little mental habits I’m inheriting from my parents, namely my dad.  The latest mental tick is my complete and utter disdain for litter bugs.  My anger at seeing litter is context-driven, admittedly.  I certainly don’t like seeing litter on the beach or in the redwood forests that I have been forced to hike through with my wife.  But I don’t feel angry when I see litter in those places.  My anger, my wrath, comes out when I walk to work in the projects. Often, I see some young guy in a hoodie walking ahead of me eating something, and when he’s done, he just tosses the wrapper down onto the ground like it’s no big thing. He probably thinks that his neighborhood is already full of trash, so what’s one more wrapper?  Or maybe he’s not even aware.  Probably the latter.

Either way, I can’t tell you when this feeling took over, but at some point, I started feeling it. My father is a neat-freak. When I was a kid, he had this habit of walking into my room at random times with two cards in his hand.  One had the word, “cosmos” on it, the other had “chaos” written on it.  He’d drop the former on my bed when the room was neat enough, the latter when my room wasn’t.  I almost never got the cosmos card. What can I say? My dad is nuts, and I’m not that neat and orderly.  But still, I get pissed when I see people litter where I work, so maybe I am.

My father, I’m sure didn’t think he was being nuts. He’s told me that he wanted to instill in me a sense of appreciation for neatness.  Maybe that’s at play for me when I see the young guys littering.  And then again, maybe it’s just sadness—sadness that the young men I see don’t care or haven’t been taught to care for their neighborhood.  It may not be the most beautiful place in San Francisco, but it’s a hell of a lot more beautiful when it’s not covered in trash.

Which leads me to my crime against the rich and famous.  It’s not really a crime. It’s a silly thing on the face of it, a minor act of rebellion.  (My dad was also a bit of a minor rebel.) As I’ve mentioned previously, I spend much of my weekends working in some very wealthy neighborhoods.  Another habit I should mention here, though no one inherited from my father: I always chew gum while teaching, and I always chew the same gum—DoubleMint.  When I leave a house, I often, not always, but often, throw that piece of gum out onto the street.  It’s tiny. Another habit: I only chew half a stick of gum at a time.

So I chuck the tiny piece of gum, I litter in my own way, in these very beautiful neighborhoods. And I’m not being absent-minded. I’m intentionally doing it.


I can only imagine that I’m seeking revenge for the young men in the hoodie. I’m evening the playing field.  Trash in the inner city, trash in the suburbs.

I said my dad was nuts, right?  I also mentioned I’m becoming him in my old age, so what do you expect? At least I’m not showing up with index cards and Greek words printed on them. At least, not yet.  For now, I’m fighting for social equality one half-stick of Wrigley’s at a time.

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