Does responsibility still exist, or am I just old-fashioned?

Let me start by saying that I’m not some rabid environmentalist. You won’t see me chain myself to a tree or handing out copies of An Inconvenient Truth on busy street corners.

I am, however, concerned about the environment and our planet. I get as much use out of a piece of paper as I can – including sticking it back in the printer to print on the other side, when possible. I try to run all my errands at one time so that I don’t waste gas or give off more emissions than absolutely necessary. I teach my kids to walk to the places we can walk to – or ride a bicycle. We recycle what we can, and always make sure our trash ends up in the garbage.

So, keeping all this in mind, I hope you’ll realize why this particular incident infuriates me so much.

My kids and I took a break from our school day the other day to run a couple of errands. When I pulled onto the main road after leaving our street, I was behind a pick up truck with 3 large, plastic garbage cans full of garbage. The lids to said cans were attached firmly, with bungee cords – to the sides of the cans.

The first issue arose when a broken plastic tub (similar to a huge ice cream container) flew out of the truck. It quickly fell to the ground, and rolled to the side of the road. Where it remained as the driver continued on, and his passenger peered out the window (head fully out window) at their litter.

A mile or so later, a large piece of cardboard flies out and catches wind. I immediately slow down, paranoid that this cardboard was about to land on my windshield and block my view. There are several cars behind me. So I’m panicking a bit, realizing that if this cardboard hits me, my choices are to attempt to blindly pull over or slam on my brakes and be hit by numerous cars behind me. Fortunately, the cardboard lands on the road.

I honk my horn, hoping that the driver will realize his trash is abandoning him and pull over. I should have realized that this was wishful thinking. The driver takes no notice of me (at least, none that is visible to me), while his passenger proceeds to stick head and arm out the window, then extend said arm and flip me the bird. Because, apparently, I’m wrong for expecting to be able to drive down the road without risking assault by garbage.

As more garbage flies from the back of this truck, the driver’s solution is not to pull over and put the lids on the cans, thus properly securing his trash. No, his solution is to slow down. He slows down, not just a bit, but dramatically. As in, the speed limit is 55, and I saw a snail pass this truck, dance a circle around the truck, and then leave it in snail dust. Do snails have dust? I don’t know. But I’m sure this one did – maybe he flung dirt behind him to create the dust.

Anyway, I have no choice but to follow him as he turns onto the road leading to the local dump – it’s the only way to get to my destination. As we turn, he’s again moving so slowly that I could almost carry on a conversation with the 20 cars that were also held up by him. Yes, I counted! He was going slowly enough that I could count!

That was the other day. Today…oh,yes, let’s discuss today, shall we? I own a dog. He’s a beautiful (or handsome, I guess – his ego might not like the feminine descriptive) white American Pit Bull – sweet as can be, unless you invade his territory.

I keep him in a kennel and put him out on a lead at the moment, because I have a few areas of fence that have been damaged by a vehicle and a tree that I can’t fix yet. So, like a responsible pet owner, I use a kennel and a lead to ensure he doesn’t run around the neighborhood.

We’ve had rain pretty much all week. Today is the first sunny day, and I wanted to put him out. But…I can’t. The reason that I can’t? Because some moron in the neighborhood isn’t being a responsible pet owner. No, his dog is roaming the neighborhood, free as a bir- uh, free dog. He roamed his happy little butt right into my yard, right into the very area my dog would have been had I come out just five minutes sooner to put him out. So now, my dog has to stay confined because someone else can’t be bothered to take care of his animal.

The point of these two, seemingly unrelated vents, is this: Where the hell is responsibility anymore? I can understand a little slip of paper flying out an open window as you’re driving down the road. I can also understand your dog slipping out the door when you open it. But that was not the case in either of these situations (the dog is still roaming free, no owner in sight!).

This is two, of many, sightings of people taking no responsibility for their things or their actions. I’ve got two kids that I’m trying to teach about responsibility. Now, I’m pleased to note that my lessons are being taken in and remembered, because in both of these cases, they mentioned how irresponsible the people involved were. But I just have to wonder, what happened with people like this? Did their parents find themselves unable to take the relatively small amount of time it takes to teach responsibility? Did these people have “leaky ears” that caused the lessons to go in one ear and out the other? What happens to make someone so irresponsible?

*Deep breath* Okay, rant over. Now I’ll go pick some garbage up off the side of the road, and give my dog a treat to make up for the fact that he has to be punished because someone else is an ass.