Perhaps I’m in the worst town in America for this observation, but I’m baffled why people don’t clean up after themselves in public places. I’m sitting at a busy Starbucks in Las Vegas, Nevada, on a bright Sunday morning so perhaps it’s something to do with hangovers after staying up way too late and drinking way too much alcohol Saturday night in Sin City, but still…
From observation, it seems like there are two types of people who aren’t good at cleaning up after themselves, the clueless, and the uncaring. You probably see both of them all the time too, with the former characterized by dutifully grabbing two cups off their table and throwing them away as a good citizen would do. Except there were three of them and the third cup is now sitting, waiting for another customer to ignore, toss or for an employee to clean up after them.
It’s the latter category that bugs me more, however, See that plastic wrapper on the floor right next to the trash can? I watched a woman walk up to the trash and shove all their refuse within. That fell and she watched it slowly float down to the floor, then walked away without picking it up. I noticed because I absolutely expected her to pick it up. Wouldn’t you?
I wonder if it’s symptomatic of a greater consequence of the increasingly narcissistic world we live in: just outside the door is a kiosk where they’re selling selfie sticks. You know, extending poles that you can use to take arms-length self portraits without the bother of asking someone else to help you out. If it’s all about me, then I can just rely on someone to run along behind me, cleaning up after my mess, right?
Certainly that seems like a parenting issue because goodness knows I can talk until I’m blue in the face without my kids recognizing that putting the milk back in the fridge after using it is smart, or that dishes belong at least in the sink after a meal, if not in the dishwasher itself. I sometimes dream of an OCD child who is obsessed with having the house be neat and clean. As mental illness goes, at least that seems somewhat beneficial to the family.
Just kidding, I don’t mean to make light of any mental illness, of course. But still, compared to having violent mood swings or looking for sharp objects to practice self-mutilation, washing the dishes seems a lot easier to handle. 🙂
It’s hard to find good statistics on how often children clean up after themselves, but I am pretty sure I’m not alone in having children who are more than a bit clueless about household and community cleanliness and who enjoy and appreciate a clean home without realizing that their contribution would be a mitzvah and much appreciated.
How about you? Are you one of the unwashed masses who expects someone else to clean up after you or would you have bent down to pick up the errant plastic refuse rather than expect someone else to do so? And what strategies do you have for helping encourage your children to learn how to be clean and help maintain a clean living space?
Oh, and for the record, I picked up the plastic wrapper after I took the photo.