Last night I went over to church to see my wife do her yearly Vacation Bible School job. Every year she stands up in front of 400 screaming kids dressed up as some crazy character and teaches them about Jesus by demonstrating some Biblical truth with object lessons pulled from God knows where. This year she is a Queen in a castle and last night she used static electricity to separate pepper from salt. It was all quite amazing, and the kids were duly impressed. She is quite the performer, seems perfectly at ease, as if it’s the most natural thing in the world to be wearing a red robe and golden crown, holding a scepter in her hand looking for all the world like Grace Kelly in front of a building full of sugared up 8 year olds. Despite the inevitable sound and technical glitches, she remained poised and in control throughout, and if I were one of those 8 year olds, I would have fallen in love.
But what I’ll remember most from the night was something that happened before I even got there. I was sitting at the stoplight of Ridge Road and Parham, right in front of the church when I noticed a young man walking south down Parham road. His back was to me so I never saw his face. He had the dress and gait of a teenager and was wearing a back pack. His left hand held a cell phone to his ear while his right hand held one of those giant energy drinks in the huge 20 oz. cans. He tilted the can skyward, polished off the last few drops and then suddenly, as casually as one might shoo away a fly, dropped the can at his feet. The can bounced off the pavement and bounded up into the overgrown grass at the side of the road. He continued on his way, unaware of anything but his cell phone conversation. Luckily for this young man, there were cars coming, because I had to fight off an angry impulse to swerve out of my lane, drive down Parham, cut in front of him, slam on the brakes, get out of my car and beat the tar out of him, then make him go pick up the can and eat it in front of me.
Yes, yes, I know, not a very Christian impulse, but it was just a flash of an idea that I had the good sense not to give in to. With age has come impulse control, I suppose. But seriously, it’s been a while since I’ve witnessed a litterer in action. You see the junk on the sides of the road but seldom see the self-absorbed knuckleheads who put it there, and I wasn’t ready for it. I haven’t been that instantly enraged since that time that an episode of 24 was preempted for that Presidential debate. I mean, the kid was wearing a back pack for heaven’s sake. Would it have killed him to put the can in there until he made it home?
I can put up with a lot, horrible music, terrible television, the designated hitter, but let me witness someone litter, and I contemplate assault. It’s the little outrages, I guess.