Deputize me! Deputize me!
I hate litterbugs. I hate them with a passion, and believe that they are among the most reprehensible of the world's population. They go to the store and buy something to drink as they drive somewhere, and having finished said refreshment, throw the can, cup, bottle out their window and leave it for the ... the what? The trash fairies to pick it up? What exactly do they think happens to the trash? It's no different with cigarette butts, hamburger wrappers, receipts or plastic tops. Litterbugging people: you bought the stuff, hold on to it until you get to a trashcan, okay? What's so difficult about that?
This morning, as if in answer to one of my deepest vigilante desires, I read an article about states and cities that are deputizing their residents to report litterbugs. More than 10 states have set up call-in hotlines, empowering people like me to tattle on people like litterbugs, and let them know that, yes, they are being watched. Offenders in Iowa and Louisville, for example, receive a letter describing their offense, and something I champion, a litter bag for their car. Brilliant! Me? I think they should be fined as well, but apparently, since the police don't see it, no punitive action can be taken. (Here's hoping that will go into effect at some point.)
At any rate, these hotlines seem to really be working in the areas that have instituted them. According to USA Today, "Since Arkansas started its hotline, volunteers are picking up less trash along highways..." The Arkansas hotline receives about 600 calls a month, and the Iowa line gets about 100 calls a week.
One weekend, several years ago, a group of girls, while driving down to Palm Springs, called a litterbug they saw on the highway. The man tossed out a cup or something out his window right in front of them. Unfortunately for him, he had a company car with the business phone number on the side. The girls, quick with their cell phones, called the company and left a voice mail message for the offender. "Litterbug! Litterbug! Litterbug! We saw you throw trash on the freeway! Litterbug! Litterbug! Litterbug!"