Sunday, January 6, 2008

Almost Filthy, West Virginia

Roadside Trash
Originally uploaded by Jason Means

Just about every Sunday I go out to see my folks, and to take a brisk stroll in the woods to clear my head before another week of chaos begins. Usually, my eye focuses on the beauty of light and form, but during this bleak and dismal time of the year that's pretty hard to do.

As I walked down the country road leading past my folk's property, I just couldn't help but notice all the trash that stands out like a sore thumb. It seems that West Virginia hillbillies know no bounds when it comes to pitching shit out their windows. This pile of cigarette butts is an all-but-to-common sight on virtually every mile of road in and around the Mountain State.

I try to judge the local populous with an open mind, figuring that most local-yocals just haven't had the positive upbringing that I received. They were never taught that littering is wrong, and that's a crying shame, but to do it in such blatant fashion isn't just wrong - it's criminal.

As a small child, I littered once - and only once. As we were driving down this same stretch of country road, I pitched a bubble gum wrapper from the window without even a thought. I'd seen trash laying about and just figured this was common practice. However, unannounced to me, my father was watching with keen eye. He abruptly stopped the truck and almost had an out-of-body experience right in front of me. Never before had I seen my old man so angry. He was a man full of rage, and on that moment of that day, it was all focused on me.

After what seemed to be an eternity of screaming and profanity, a verbal tapestry that has not been weaved since, he reversed the truck and made me get out and pick up the wrapper that I dearly wish I would have just held on to.

From this experience as a young boy I learned that littering wasn't just wrong, but highly dangerous. I think that many other Appalachian families must have missed out on this type of "tough love". Although it was a scary experience at the time, I'm so happy my dad had the courage and strength (and profanity) to be a good parent and to teach a valuable lesson.

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