Tag Archives: Littering

Help, I Married a Gum Litterer

14 May

It’s a miracle that I’m able to write today during such a difficult time. Here’s the problem: I just found out that my wife is a litter bug.

I’ve been asking myself: Should I alert the authorities? Should I file for a divorce?

I know. It’s not like she killed someone. She littered.

But before you stop reading because you think I’m a crazy person, know this: she’s not your typical public nuisance, she’s a chewing gum litterer, an assault to shoes all over Madison County.gum-dailymail

The first time I stepped in someone’s chewed gum, as a kid in the early ‘80s, I instantly hated all people who had ever spit their gum out on the sidewalk and hated unborn people who would someday spit their gum out on the sidewalk for innocent people–kids like me!–to step on while wearing their favorite and fastest pair of running shoes. (I didn’t particularly care for those who even had a passing thought of disposing of their gum improperly, but thought better of it. If you’re related to someone who has spit their gum out on a sidewalk, I hate you. I hate everyone!)

It’s a cruel twist of fate that I would end up married to one of those people.

I found out from our responsible (non-littering) fourteen-year-old daughter.

Here’s how it went down. While pulling out of our local Home Depot, my wife removed her well-chewed gum of indeterminate brand and flavor and chucked it across the front seat and out of the passenger side window onto the ground. She kept driving and apparently didn’t look back. The gum practically zipped right under our daughter’s nose, so I have no reason to doubt her account of this incident.

Obviously, it’s difficult to admit that I’m married to this woman. We took vows and stuff!

When confronted, she shrugged and said she was trying to throw it in a bush. Like that makes it okay.

You’ve probably stepped in chewing gum too. What a mess, huh? Maybe you went through the familiar stages: confusion (Why does it feel as if my right foot is partially sticking to the ground at every step?); anger (I’m going to break the friggin’ neck of whoever left their gum here!); uncertainty (How am I going to get this gum off my shoe without touching it?);  resignation (I’m going to throw this fouled shoe into that pond and walk home with one bare foot!); and finally, practicality and acceptance (I’ll scrape off what I can with this stick and deal with the rest later.)

Stupid gummy shoe in a pond.

Stupid gummy shoe in a pond.

Of course, I’m not perfect. I littered like a madman as a teenager. I would eat an entire McDonald’s meal while driving and, without guilt, toss all evidence of its existence–including the receipt and straw wrapper–right out the window. But I stopped littering during the Clinton administration. Before Monica Lewinsky! Over the years, to avoid littering, I have swallowed enough chewing gum to choke a stable of thoroughbreds.

And I thought she stopped too.

There were signs.

Two years ago she tossed a banana peel from a moving car and seemed surprised at my disgust.

Her response: What? It’s organic! It’s not littering when it’s food.A discarded, gross banana peel

We’ve all seen a rotten banana peel on the sidewalk or side of the road. It’s not pleasant. And here’s something I have never said during such an encounter: “Oh look, some thoughtful citizen has started a compost heap right here in downtown Edwardsville.”

I think it’s safe to say that no person has ever said that about food scraps thrown from a car window.

But it’s my nature to find the silver lining in sour situations. And here’s mine. I realize that I have raised a daughter who, instead of repeating such a foul act, would report it. Obviously, gum littering is not okay with her or she would not have even thought to tell me about it. Thankfully, after being raised by one littering parent and one non, she has taken the path NOT fouled with globs of synthetic rubber.

Like her father, she wraps her chewed gum in its wrapper that was thoughtfully saved and placed in a pocket, or, again, like her father, she dutifully chews gum that long ago lost its pliability and flavor until it can be disposed of properly.

No, this won’t end our marriage, but we’re going to renew our marriage vows to reflect our current reality. I’m working on a couple of spots where I can insert some common sense.

Until death or gum litter do us part.

And, I promise to be true to you until you throw something gross from a moving car.

Let me know what you think.