The No. 1 sign that someone’s a jerk

lit litNot sure if I’ve shared this before.

Back in the late months of 1999, when I was driving around Atlanta with John Rocker, I witnessed many crazy things from the Braves closer. He bashed foreigners. He bashed gays. He bashed blacks. He bashed Asian women as drivers.

One small moment, however, spoke great volumes.

We were walking along the sidewalk of an outdoor plaza, en route to lunch. John was in front of me by a few steps. He dropped his pen to the sidewalk. I picked it up, assuming it was an accident. “John, you dropped your pen,” I said, handing it to him.

“No,” he said. “I meant to do that.”

I was surprisingly staggered. You meant to drop your pen? Really? On purpose? When it still works? When, literally, there’s a trash can five feet away? What kind of perso—

Then it hit me. This guy was a f*cking asshole.

But he’s not alone. Moments ago, here in Starbucks, a woman unwrapped a straw, placed the straw in her drink, then allowed the paper to flutter to the ground. It wasn’t an accident or an oversight. She did it, clearly on purpose. Because, hey, why not? Come to think of it, back in Nashville I once took a woman on a date. She was gorgeous beyond gorgeous—easily the hottest person I’d ever convinced to accompany me anywhere. Well, toward the end of the evening she asked if we could stop at the McDonald’s drive-thru for a beverage. “Sure,” I said. Michelle (her real name) proceeded to take the drink, roll down the window and, moments later, chuck her rolled-up bag onto the sidewalk. I was dumbfounded.*

Many things infuriate me in this world. But few things more than the blatant litterer; than the assholic presumption that someone else should pick up your crap. Generally, that someone else is a low-paid worker walking the street/store with a broom and a dustpan. He’s the person struggling to make ends meet; the person asking for extra hours in order to afford the rent.

It takes a special breed of callousness to be OK with this.

By special, I mean … awful.

* We never went out again. I’d love to say it’s because of my principles. Truth is, she never called me back. Dang. 🙂

4 thoughts on “The No. 1 sign that someone’s a jerk”

  1. Litter drives me bananas. Can’t say I was the greatest about it my youth, but I was DUMB, Jeff. It pains me to see people litter now and also not teach their kids that it’s wrong. I live near a gorgeous beach and the amount of trash I see when I’m out walking my dog would make you cry. People bag the dog poop and LEAVE THE BAG on the beach. Why do they do that?? Ugh. Don’t get me started. I will say this though… what’s going on in the picture doesn’t bother me as much. At least it’s biodegradable!

  2. Hear, hear. On a related note, I’ve long wondered why cigarette ash and cigarette butts are generally accepted forms of littering. It’s a filthy enough habit without leaving the accompanying detritus behind.

  3. I can relate to your thoughts on people who feel it’s OK to throw their trash someplace other than a can or waste basket. Simply put, they’re lazy and inconsiderate. I work a job that requires I clean a parking lot and it never fails to amaze me how much crap doesn’t find it’s way to one of the 1/2 dozen trash bins on the property. Gotta admit I did enjoy the one time I walked up behind a guy sitting in a car that dropped crap out of his window. He didn’t know I was behind him, but he did a few seconds later when I approached his car to let him know ”that I”d pick it up for him”. Like I said, lazy and considerate.

  4. ” Generally, that someone else is a low-paid worker walking the street/store with a broom and a dustpan. He’s the person struggling to make ends meet; the person asking for extra hours in order to afford the rent.”

    Wouldn’t this particular worker likely get less hours if there was less work to be done? If everyone used trash cans, would these types of jobs even exist?

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