My Cool Hand Luke Moment

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Cool Hand Luke is one of my all time favorite movies. The photo above is from when Paul Newman is about to be beat to a pulp but refuses to stop fighting until the stronger opponent gives up. This will make sense in a moment.

So I encounter a sight unfortunately way too common. A car slows down and deliberately drops some garbage out of the window. Now previously I would just get really angry and let the hatred build. I don’t know what happened to me this time but I simply walked over, smiled, picked up the trash (plastic cups) and went on my way. I figure the only way to win is to be relentless and not let it show that it bothers you. I imagine it’s how Lukas Jackson would respond. I pledged to myself at that moment that I will react in exactly the same way when similar incidents arise. Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand…

35 Comment

  • You are a cooler man than I… Kudos..

  • I was walking next to a group of hippy-type kids in Mount Pleasant when a guy does just that, slowly drives up in his car, takes out a fried chicken bag and tosses it on the sidewalk.

    I look at it like, WTF, but here’s what these little hippy kids said,

    “I hate [those] people. They throw trash on the ground everywhere.”
    “Yeah, they’re bad people who never clean up. They should recycle, but they don’t.”
    “On my block they stand on the sidewalk and throw trash right there.”
    “Yeah, I hate them. They never recycle.”

    paraphrased, but that’s reasonably accurate.

    I had to jump in and say that not ALL people of that race littered and it was unfair to their friends when they talked like that. And then one of them started talking about their mom’s friend who is nice or something.

    Kids no more than 7, 8, 9 years old spouting total racist stuff. Some kid is going to get harassed at school because some dickweed in a car threw trash on the ground. I hope the older generation sees how their cruelty to little kids by blocking the sidewalks and littering is breeding racist hate.

  • Wow! You are, what Stevey Covey would refer to as a “transition figure” instead of a “transmission figure”! Good for you for not channeling negative into even more negative! Way to be!

  • My favorite is when people throw things AT the trash can. Not in the trash can, but at it. Don’t forget, in DC, littering is a statement of rebellion against whitey. Its a way of showing how unjust the world is, and how little you respect that world. Its cool and politically active. Like when you shoot up a block and kill kids. Man, that’s effective rebellion!

  • Did you happen to notice if there was a plastic Jesus on his dashboard?

  • and i here i was expecting to read about a fight. false advertising.

  • Next time yell at them, or get their license plate number and report them.

    Last time I saw someone litter on my block I picked up the trash and threw it at them and yelled “use a fu cking trash can!”

    The guy was shocked and not all that happy with me, but he did pick up his trash and put it in his pocket.

    Granted he was older and didn’t look all that strong, so it was an easy calculated risk on my part, not sure I’d do that to a young, strong dude.

  • Because I am zipping by on a bike, I don’t fear yelling “Hey! Pick that up!” to the young people I see. Consistently their response is laughter – certainly no picking up. Most often they have an impressionable youngster by the hand. Add to that that they are eating junk food/soda on the way to school or work in the morning…

  • awesome movie! I like the egg eating bit. 🙂

  • I always confront litterers. Usually “Hey, you dropped something” but sometimes a little more confrontational. No litterer I’ve ever talked to has reacted constructively (i.e. apologizing or picking the stuff up).

  • It makes me so mad when people throw things out of their cars or drop them as they walk. It makes you want to pick it up and hurl it back at them with a profanity. I would love to pick up a half finished strawberry shake that some drops out of their car at a red light and just hurl it right back in there! Oh god that would be awesome!

  • Neener,

    Were these hippy-type kids (aged 7 – 9 apparently) walking (without an adult) in Mt. Pleasant white? If so, I can’t say I’ve ever seen such a sight in MtP. Was the litterer black, as well as the kid who you are projecting will be harrassed at school? Like, a bunch of white kids will be harrassing a black kid a DC public school? A private school? Huh? Just trying to understand…

  • When my friend was visiting once I took her to Domku, I didn’t see this take place but a girl and her boyfriend walked by and the girl threw her soda bottle on the gound even though there are like 3 trash cans within even throwing distance. Then she turned to her boyfriend and said matter of factly “oh yeah, I litter.” And they went on walking. My friend picked up the bottle and put it in the trash.

  • i wish your friend had broken the bottle over her stupid f*cking head…

    i think the absence of civic mindedness is the biggest crime against humanity. if you dont respect your fellow man to the minimal degree that it takes to not throw trash into the streets, then you should be impaled on a spike and hung out on a street corner.


  • I am troubled by youdontknowme’s sociological assessment of race relations in DC. It kinda makes it sound as if “we” all band together and hatch some decadent plot against “the man.” If you are harboring some deep feelings ( and i emphasize if) of anger toward black Americans, you reside in an interesting place.

  • I generalized to be sure, I don’t view all African Americans as a monolithic entity, like I don’t view all whites as unified (Ie, I am not of like mind as Charles Manson or Jeff Dahmer, that I know of, much less Dick Cheney). Its an opinion of mine that many people in DC do litter (and kill) out of non-specific anger at the world, caused by ignorance for lack of a better word. If most of them are black, its because that’s the majority population here. I could take you to the trailer parks of the midwest (or Maryland) and show you the same behavior from white folk.

  • Rueben,

    I’ve read your posts previously and you seems like a sincere, civic-minded person (no sarcasm, honestly.) But truly, I wasn’t aware I made a “sociological assessment” – I was simply attempting to understand the contention of the original posting. But I am interested in hearing what you read into my post.

    And you are correct; I reside here partly becaue it is an interesting place..

  • @Gilahi whats up with the plastic jesus reference? I have a bobble-jesus and am an avid environmentalist.

    Plastic Jesus he’s so thrifty
    Only costs a dollar fifty
    Ridin’ on the dashboard of my car

    I don’t care if it rains or freezes
    ‘Long as I got my plastic Jesus
    Riding on the dashboard of my car
    Through my trials and tribulations
    And my travels through the nations
    With my plastic Jesus I’ll go far

    I don’t care if it’s dark or scary
    Long as I the son of Mary
    Ridin’ on the dashboard of my car
    Cauz’ I could go a hundred miles an hour
    Long as I got the almighty power
    Ridin’ on the dashboard of my car

  • I see only black teens/young people litter in my neighborhood. But I don’t see white teens at all on Irving/Georgia – so it’s kind of hard to compare. My sis was a Fairfax Co. high school teacher and she said nowadays littering is rampant on the part of all groups – I participated in a school litter pickup event down at Robert E Lee High and it is so.

  • please note that I did not identify people by race, nor did POP, but just that I witnessed and there appears to be ethnic or race related issues to littering and racist reactions against littering in this area.

    I don’t remember seeing where anyone’s mother was, but it was probably one older brother, a younger brother and a friend and this was around… I think… I had come from Ercilias and this happened… gosh… around 7-11 or the church.

    and I’ve totally seen a 5/6 year old kid I know walking on MtP st with his brother holding slurpies they just bought. Seen that plenty of times this summer. I’ve seen kids in hellers buying donuts on Saturday mornings and at the Sambar.

  • Flip Flop–
    Nice Flaming Lips drop!

  • I was always cleaning up trash around our house. Not anymore, moved to Arlington, but that is a different story. It used to bother me, I would get angry, fuss and fume and then just pick up everyone else’s litter. I decided that nothing was going to change the bad habits of some people, so I learned to live with it. I gotta say though that I think the streets in Petworth are some of trashiest, dirtiest streets I have ever seen. Really, its very sad. There seems to be a lack of respect for the environment as well as a lack of sense of pride in your community.

  • I often eat something in my car, be it fast food or carry out. I am such a fanatic about not carrying trash into my house and not leaving it in my car. I actually drive through alleys looking for open super cans or dumpsters to drop off my trash. I would never think of littering. I was just raised with that so engrained in me, never to throw trash, even a carry out fork, on the street. people who do it are so low class and disgusting.

  • Mmmm, Arlington, you lucky devil. How many death threats do you get there? You got a nine and a set?? 😉

  • youdontknowme:
    I know what the nine is, but not the set.
    I love Arlington. It just feels right for me and my family. Our quality of life has greatly improved. The streets are quiet, safe and clean. We have met more neighbors in 7 weeks in Arlington than we did in 7 years in Petworth. And we made the effort in Petworth. It just never panned out…

  • The set is the gang set you flash with your fingers, to show who you’re with. This I know from Tupac, and Rage Against the Machine. It oddly has never come up in my education or personal life… Enjoy Arlington, and pity us poor bastards here…

  • Yea, man, the trash and littering around Col Hts and Petworth really get me down. That and the drug dealing are my two significant and ongoing complaints about the neighborhood. Otherwise, I’m happy as a clam here.

    I’ve tried picking up, speaking up and riling up, but nothing seems to change. I just don’t understand why so many folks find it so hard to keep the streets clean.

    Unfortunately, in my heart I knew it was hopeless here when I went to the Grand Canyon, one of the most incredibly beautiful and awe-inspiring places on the planet, looked over the edge of the canyon and saw an empty soda can ten yards down. If folks can’t respect the Grand Canyon, what chance do the streets of DC have?

  • Perhaps we could start with deposits on glass, plastic and aluminum drink containers. That wouldn’t stop the food wrappers. Make these things currency and I think you will see a lot fewer drink containers on the ground.

  • Ya, what Steve said. That the District has such a litter problem and yet a deposit law never comes up with the council should be all the reason everyone needs to get to the polls today and vote out every single do-nothing incumbent. It’s a disgrace that no elected official will throw his weight behind such an obvious and simple improvement to our quality of life.

  • I got in an amusing exchange the other day when folks were discussing the lack of a loitering law, which means police can’t bust people for just hanging out and being a nuisance. I said they didn’t need a loitering law, they could bust for litter. I was told its too much of a hassle to bust for littering. At times like that I always think of that line in Zoolander: I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!! Ahhh!!!

  • saf

    “the District has such a litter problem and yet a deposit law never comes up with the council ”

    It did, and the beverage industry spent billions to defeat it.

  • Thanks, AngryParakeet, for floating the idea that maybe the reason people see so many ethnic-types littering in DC is because the population of D.C. is predominantly ethnic types. Minorities are going to do most of the good AND most of the bad stuff we see because that’s who lives here, primarily. I hate littering, I think people who do it are a bunch of stupid asses. But I don’t think that stupidity is race-specific.

    I think one of the reasons why there’s so much littering aroound Petworth is because there’s a lot of cheap greasy spoons, convenience stores, mass transit, and major thoroughfares here. I’ve really thought about this, because I drive on Military Road to get to work every day, and obviously that part of DC is not as littered. But, there are also hardly any convenience stores, there’s not a nearby Metro stop, and there’s not really any reason to drive around or walk around in those upper Northwest neighborhoods unless you’re trying to get home. Whereas Georgia Ave. and 14th Street are major arteries, and there’s a lot of folks who stand around waiting for the bus with some food, and…etc.

    I bet that most of the people who actually LIVE in Petworth don’t throw crap down in the street (I hope to God that’s true, anyway.) But there’s a lot of people who go through Petworth on their way to someplace else, they don’t live here, and they don’t give a shit.

    But to the point, good for you, PoP, for taking a stand.

  • I can’t agree with you Christina, my neighbors litter profusely on their front lawns, sidewalks, etc. As I said, its a way to say f** off to the world and demonstrate how cool they are but not caring (Oh yeah, I litter – Amy 12:58ish). We live among pathetic animals. Not many, a tiny minority really, but enough, and a government incapable of handling them.

  • Well, your neighbors need a kick in the nuts.

    I pick up trash on the front lawn of my condo property all the time, and I try to do it when people can see me doing it. Maybe, in at least one person, it might possibly instill a small kernel of shame. But that’s an emotion in short supply these days.

  • I’m going to go out on a limb and state, doing no research whatsoever, that the beverage industry did not spend “billions” to stop the passage of a DC deposit law.

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