Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Cleaning Up This Town

We've had some of those warm, clear days we seem to get every February in Issaquah, the days that sucker you into thinking spring is just around the corner and then the cold rain returns for many more weeks. But for now, it's wonderful. I'm out running a bunch of small errands on my bike when I see her. She's walking her dog, but stopping every few feet to pick up trash and shove it in a big plastic bag. She's got one yellow plastic glove on her garbage hand. This is obviously not some random action. This is pre-meditated.

I'm the kind of guy who talks to strangers and I guess a forty-eight year old dude on a tiny bright red Dahon folding bike isn't too threatening a figure to a woman walking a large, friendly dog. At least she doesn't pull out any mace or anything when I ride up and say "Hey, are you picking up garbage because you're a cool person or...?" I kind of let the thought fizzle out as I realize I don't quite know how to end that sentence. I said I'm a guy who talks to strangers, I didn't say I was any good at it.

The woman laughs and says she has to walk the dog anyway, she might as well pick up some trash as long as she's out. "That's awesome," I gush. I introduce myself and she introduces herself and the dog. I have a mind like a steel sieve and manage to forget both names while I rummage through my pockets for the pen that is usually there but today is back home on the kitchen table. "Can I take your picture?" I ask while doing a bad job of explaining about GAIT and my blog. Somehow she decides that this penless blogger on the funny little bike is probably mostly harmless and agrees. I give her my card and if she emails me, I'll point her to this blog entry.

It doesn't matter what her name is, what matters is that she's doing something to make her town a little nicer. And if she can do it, heck I can do it too. Not every day perhaps but maybe a bit now and then.

The next day is another sunny day and I have to run some more errands. I grab a bag on my way out the door. It doesn't take long to fill it up.

Gandhi said we should be the change we want to see in the world. I'm glad the lady with the garbage bag and the yellow glove and the big black dog reminded me of that.

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