4.15.2005

life's little ironies
last weekend after yoga I was playing out front of my house with my wife and two children
down the sidewalk there were various neighbors doing various weekend things
coming and going
rushing off to do whatever people do on weekends
whatever people do on particularly beautiful spring weekend days
a number of people were doing yard work
others were stuffing their children into their cars for some less than local adventure
I noticed down the block that one of my neighbors was lugging arms full of yard clippings across the street and into a section of park land across the street from her house
Rock Creek Park one of our National Parks

being who I am I had to say something
I spend a fair amount of time picking up trash in the woods across the street from my house
people often dump their Christmas Trees and engine blocks into Rock Creek Park
people park... take in the view... enjoy their lunch... then toss their trash out the window
and of course
it is also not uncommon for people to dump their leaves, lawn trimmings, and trimmed tree limbs
so I walked down the sidewalk
as I got closer to her front walk I watched as this woman crossed the road
although I can not read minds it seemed as if she had seen me see her and she was fighting eye contact
as this neighbor of mine awkwardly tried to find her way up the stairs to her front walk without raising her head I began to speak... "you know... dumping your lawn clippings in the woods is no different than dumping an old washer or dryer... it is illegal... it is dumping..."

she responded with an, "oh yea..." to which I said, "yea."
she then tried to tell me that it will compost (decompose)
I assured her that the pile of leaves would not break down.... that the leaves would remain in a stack as an eyesore for years
that... an eyesore that makes others who consider dumping to do their actions with less guilt
that it reinforces people's mistaken justification for using the park as a landfill (perhaps not my exact words as I do remember part of her arguement was that it was better in the park than in a landfill)
our arguement went down a path that was all mouth and no ears....

she told me to call the cops...
I told her that "calling the cops" was not my style
but... that if I were to call the cops she would regret it as such a visit would be a pain in the ass which would include a trip to the dump, a reciept from the dump which would have to be taken to the police station... etc... etc... etc....

well...

she continued to put leaves in the woods.... excuse me... national park across the street from her house

I immediately felt bad
after the dust settled I went back to her place to try and let her know that I did not enjoy how the exchange went
there was no answer...
so a few days later I dropped her an email apoligizing for the negative feeling our exchange

in that email I asked her to walk out her back door
have her take a look in the alley behind her house
for her to walk down to where our alley meets a section of the park
there she will see piles of logs, piles of leaves, piles of rubbish
all put there by people that believed that they would compost (decompose)
that this stuff would break down.... that they would become part of the park.. part of the earth

it just is not so

leaves fall one by one
leaves fall a few ontop of each other
leaves do not fall into large heaps
even the leaves that collect naturally into a pile take nearly to breakdown

either way...
I felt bad
like a hypocrite....
I was more trying to let her know that what she was doing was wrong
not telling her what to do
more just trying to share some information

as a person who walks their dogs leashless and takes an occassional spin on closed trails
I have no right to pass judgement on others... I was not passing judgement on anyone
it was more an effort to pass on information
to help her finish an arguement that she has
already had in her head

the encounter did not go as I felt it should
it was a difficult issue to approach
another person would have let it go
another person would have know that there are two ways this exchange could go... good or bad
the odds were stronger in the favor of things going bad
another person would learn from this experince and try not to say anything in the future

well.... I am not another person
I am me

sometimes I feel that my size works against me
that people will already take an agressive defensive stance
standing poised and ready
locked and loaded
ready to argue
ready to fight
although I hate conflict... I create this situations of conflict for myself all the time
although I want to avoid contact
I still have to be me

next time I need to figure out a way to approach waving a white flag

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