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Category Archives: I love city life

I was walking my dog today in the park at the foot of my block. Just as we left the park  I saw a young brother who was about 16 or 17 years old walk past the park finishing off a bag of chips. As he dumped the last of the crumbs in his mouth he casually (and purposefully) dropped the bag to the ground mid-stride.
Without missing a beat I said "Sweetheart, you dropped your trash."
You see, after living in Baltimore for about 6 months I have found that feigning ignorance that someone would litter *on purpose* is the one way that has always gotten the litterbug in question to pick up their trash. They might carry it with them to a nearby trash can or they might drop it once they are out of sight, but either way they pick it up.
Not this time.

The young man stopped, turned around, looked me straight in the eye and said "I know." Casually, calmly, but decidedly. Then he turned around and continued walking. If there was a mirror in front of me I am sure that I would have seen my own eyes bulge out of their sockets in disbelief!!
"Wow! That's how we do it here in the city, huh? " I said, still pleasant, but at the same time in disbelief. "That's just ignorant."
I picked up the bag and headed home with a flurry of mean-spirited thoughts about this young man flickering through my head. "He's putting trash into his body," I thought as I watched him pop open a soda and a second bag of chips moments later.
I walked about a block
when I heard someone speak and saw the young man approaching… saying something… polite and not at all aggressive or threatening in spite of his slim but muscular 6 foot 2 inch frame.
"I'm sorry. I should not have done that." He paused. "I'm really sorry."
He reached out for the empty potato chip bag that I was holding and I
noticed that a tear had escaped from the corner of his left eye.
I said "That's okay. Are you just having a bad day?" And he said yes and
"Thank you," I said " and I hope your day gets better."
And with that we walked our separate ways. I wanted to hug him, invite him to dinner, ask him if there was anything that I could do to help – but I worried about overstepping the boundaries of strangers and ruining the perfect moment of redemption that I had just witnessed.
Someone once told me that I have a way of bringing things out of people - sometimes their best and sometimes their worst. I can't quite remember ever witnessing both within a single minute. This young man was able to "man up" and take ownership of his actions. In the process he restored my faith in humanity and in Charm City. Once again, I can say it loud and proud: "I love city life."

Image Credit: Kevin Steele, Flickr