---- — Many states have banned, or soon will ban, texting and phoning while you drive because it’s so distracting. However, it’s a well-known fact that eating, fiddling with the radio, singing along with Beyonce, making hand-gestures to other drivers and wiping the ketchup that has dribbled onto your shirt from that burger you just ate while driving are all perfectly safe activities. I think we’ll all feel better if we know that we were killed by a guy eating a cheeseburger and not by a jerk on his cellphone. There’s just something comforting about it.
Funny thing though, when drivers finish their phone calls, they usually don’t throw their phones out the window. But when they’ve finished the burger and the soda, they toss the remains out the window, wherever they happen to be — just like we all do. Sure, there are some neat freaks who put all the extra napkins, unopened ketchup packets, burger wrappers and empty french fry boxes all into one bag before they toss it. But most people just toss each item out separately, over hundreds of yards of roadway.
Wait, what? You don’t do that? Oh, yeah, I forgot, neither do I. What is the thinking here? That this stuff is far too nasty to keep in the car until you can find a garbage can? What is the big problem with keeping your trash in the car until you can dispose of it? Or is your mother driving behind you just to pick up after you?
Let’s see: You have enough money to have a car, you have enough money to buy gas, you have enough money to buy junk food and you’ve got to be over 16 to have a license. So we know that you know better than to throw your garbage out the car window, but you do it anyway. Why? My friends who live in states with bottle deposit laws are amazed at how many people still throw away bottles that can be returned for a nickel or a dime. I can understand getting rid of the empty beer cans. Obviously, when stopped by the police, you don’t want them to find a bunch of empties on the floor of the passenger seat; besides, you’re making plenty of money selling crystal meth, so who needs the nickel back?
What floors my bottle-collecting friends is how many empty bottles of water they find on the side of the road. In their mind, people who drink bottled water can do no wrong. After all, they are the parents who don’t let their children drink sugary sodas; the joggers, runners and speed walkers; the back-to-the-earth, organic, grass-fed beef crowd — why on earth would they throw their garbage out of a car window and spoil the natural world they love so much? The answer is not “who is doing this,” but why?
What does a small child do when he’s angry or frustrated? He throws things. What does an angry or frustrated adult do? Ever been golfing with a club thrower? The guy may be president of a bank, but he hasn’t a clue how to channel his anger. We’ve all heard of, or worked for, bosses who throw things. People throw drinks on each other, they “throw” a punch, they throw their husbands’ stuff out on the front lawn. Throwing fast-food waste out a car window says you’re mad at the world.
But why are you taking out your anger on the rest of us? If you don’t like your parents, go tell them, not me. If you hate your job, get another one; don’t take it out on me. If you married someone you hate, whose fault is that? No one twisted your arm. Besides, if throwing trash out the car window solved problems, trust me, everyone would be doing it.
Some days, I think they are.
Jim Mullen is the author of “It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life,” “Baby’s First Tattoo” and “Now in Paperback.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.