Monday, July 6, 2009

Litterbugs and their ubiquitous handiwork

WHEN my friend found two garbage bags hung on his gate one morning, he thought little of them.

Could be pranks by some kids, he reasoned, and good-naturedly disposed of them in his trash bin.

But when the bags appeared day after day, he was less forgiving.

He woke up early one day and waited in the shadows of his porch for the litterbug.

However, when he heard the sound of a motorcycle approaching, it was too late —a bag of garbage had already been lobbed near his bin.

All he could do was shout at the biker who sped off.

Although the litterbug was not caught, no more garbage bags had appeared since then but my friend was sure that someone else’s garbage bin was now the target.

We have all been frustrated by the misdeeds of litterbugs.

Garbage bags left at lamp posts, hung on phone poles or someone else’s fence, thrown into the drains, or piled in front of shops.

You see it less in the city centre but if you live in residential areas, such scenarios have become a norm.

Even when communal bins were placed in low-cost housing areas or longhouses, garbage still ended up everywhere except in the bins.

And when the bins were re - moved, everyone complained.

But in some areas, the removal has taught people to be more responsible and dispose of their garbage properly.

Highways and moving traffic are also not spared from the irresponsible actions of litterbugs.

Someone I met at the Ayer Keroh lay-by recently was hopping mad when a trail of discards from another motorist came at him.

The victim said he wished he had been driving a faster car so that he could catch up with the litterbug and teach him a lesson in courtesy and c i v i c - m i n d e d n e s s.

Onewould think that people who live in high-rises would be spared.

But ask any condo owner and you will be surprised.

Garbage bags have mysteriously appeared in lifts, under staircases, along corridors, and other secluded spots.

A building manager of an apartment in Setapak had this story to share: Someone had been throwing bags of garbage from the upper floors onto the car park area and the culprit was never caught.

One day, already at his wits end, the building manager found another garbage bag in the car park.

He decided to check the content.

He found several envelopes with the address of one of the apartments.

With the proof he needed in hand, he confronted the apartment owner who found out that his teenage son, who was supposed to drop the garbage bags into the rubbish chute nightly, had instead chosen the easy way by throwing them out the window.

Since then, no more garbage had landed in the car park again.

Recreational litterbugs usually do it out of convenience.

Repeat offenders do it out of habit and probably because no one else was watching or cared enough to tell them off.

A word of advice or warning can sometimes work wonders.

But usually, most of us choose to mind our own business — until, the garbage ends up in our backyard.

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