Shoreline may soon boast a third Rotary Club. Its prospective members have begun meeting weekly at Grinders, a classy sandwich shop located at 199th and Aurora Avenue North, on Thursdays 6:15-7:45 p.m. The fellowship is a family of Rotary families serving humanity locally and internationally. Bring your spouse and kids. Let Mitch and Mom (Grinder’s proprietors) cook you some dinner. Come serve with us. Help shape the heart of this new Rotary venture. Good-will put to action makes a difference for others—and for you.
To be true to our charge, we did an initial modest service project on Saturday afternoon. We picked up trash on Aurora and the Interurban Trail for an hour and a half. I had expected to fill a few bags in about an hour. But as we walked, the crush of highway trash came clear. In ninety minutes we filled a pickup truck, and completed less than one-half of the twenty blocks we set ourselves.
The trash itself was a welter. We anticipated beverage bottles and cigarette packs, paper scraps and cigar butts; we also found condoms, surgical gloves, soggy books, shoes, six-pack rings, socks, plastic vehicle bumper parts, and children’s toys. Kentucky Fried Chicken detritus bedecked the roadway near KFC. Starbucks cups and lids and little brown straws decayed into wind-blown sculptures. We encountered muffler fragments, bolts, washers, styrofoam cups and packing blocks and peanuts. Cigarette butts spattered asphalt, myriad like winter stars. Smokers blight landscapes as do they their lungs. Several trillion cigarette butts get flicked every year. Butts are the most littered item in America. Drinking beer in a vehicle (which is illegal; RCW 46.61.519) induces an involuntary elbow reflex that ejects cans out automobile windows. Flattened empties were legion.
Where old garbage piled, littering increased. Litter ignored authorizes littering. Washington law dings trash-tossers. Littering is prohibited (RCW 46.61.645), subject to a fifty dollar fine (RCW 7.80.120). If one drops sufficient volume, littering is a crime (more than one cubic foot is a misdemeanor; more than one cubic yard is a gross misdemeanor. RCW 70.93.060).
Some weeks ago, a sleek black 2008 Cadillac sedan parked near North City’s HotWire coffee house. As I admired it, a young joyrider pressed a button. His window retracted, and a drink cup, some sloshy icy concoction, splatted on the pavement. Silently, the window closed. The two boys stared. Concerned how teenagers came to be driving a fifty thousand dollar vehicle, I said nothing. I tried to recall, had I littered as an adolescent? Memory fails me.
The litterer slaps our communal aesthetic. He blemishes, sows toxic hazards, and bedevils wildlife. Then, with a shrug, he careens down the road.
For what it is worth, it did me good to pick some up trash. But Don Quixote ambled through my mind, wobbling toward a wind mill.