I always walk with my head down. It’s part low self-esteem and part amateur anthropology. I do it because I’m fascinated with stuff that gets left behind.
I had this habit since I was a child. Back then, I remember a lot more garbage in general. People used to toss fast food bags, beer bottles, and unwanted detritus out the window as if the world was their dumpster. Mostly, I remember the shiny brown tangled cassette tape freed from its casings and blowing in the wind like angry Lo Mein. Then CD’s came along. I don’t remember them being tossed as much as cassette tapes. Maybe it’s because they were far pricier than their temperamental ill-designed predecessor. Today, music garbage is nonexistent, it’s yet another victim of the digital age.
Back in the day, cigarette butts made up the bulk of the treasures awaiting my inspection on the asphalt. Not so much today. Smokers, for the most part, have been conditioned to carry on their misdeed in a designated area and when they are done they are to put the butts in a squat metal contraption that looks like it was designed to encapsulate a gnome.
Today the most ubiquitous trash is plastic tooth flossers. I am baffled by these. When I first spied these odd little specimens, I thought they were the work of one individual. Yet, I kept finding them in different towns, by railroad tracks, in the library parking lot. Could I have a dental obsessed stalker? The answer came when I went on vacation. Lo and behold, those little plastic suckers were all over the ground in that part of the country too. I realized then that these flossers replaced the cigarette butts.
What I wonder is who is using these? Do they have a trove of them on their person at all times or do they pick up a few on the way out the door like car keys? And do they pick their teeth out in the open? In front of everyone? I’m just curious because it seems to me flossing is on par with toenail clipping. Sure, you could do it in public, but is it really a spectator sport? Finally, I wonder is this a new phenomenon? Maybe people were always this gum-health obsessed but the old school floss without the plastic handle just disappeared in the wind like dandelion fronds.