Friday, March 16, 2012

"I Get Where I'm At"

A few months ago, I heard an interview with Kevin Costner as he and his band were preparing to play at the Grand Ol Opry. He was dazzled at the prospect of playing at such a venerable venue. To him, the Grand Ol Opry is hallowed ground, made holy by such great souls as Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, and Tennessee Ernie Ford. In the interview, he made a statement that was grammatically heinous, but it got to the heart of the matter. He looked around, then looked at the interviewer and said: “I get where I’m at.”

He gets it. He understands the history and heritage of that place. He was honored and humbled to have the opportunity to play there.

I think most of us here in Jefferson County get where we’re at. Our out-of-town friends and relatives tell us how lucky we are to live here. We love the mountains, lakes, and rivers. We love the farms and fields and turkey and deer. We live in a beautiful place.

And yet, there are a few who don’t get where they’re at. So I’ve written a letter…

Dear Roadside Grass-Cutters,

I have a favor to ask of you. As you cut the grass along Jefferson County’s roads this season, could you please lift up your blades whenever you come to a pile of trash? I think most people would agree that shredded, scattered litter along the side of the road looks worse than uncut grass.

Please understand, I’m not blaming you. I know your job description tells you to cut the grass, so you cut the grass.  It’s not your fault that there is litter all over our county roads, and it’s not your job to deal with it. The fault really lies with two groups of people: the slobs who throw their trash on our public roads (if they want to litter their own yards, that’s their right, but the roads belong to all of us) and the county leaders who haven’t come up with any consistent plan for litter pick-up. Say what you want about the federal government, but at least they have enough foresight to send a crew of workers to pick up litter along I-40 before the grass crews arrive. Our county leaders haven’t figured that out yet.

In spite of the fact that I’m frustrated and embarrassed by my county’s roads, it is kind of funny. I mean, our leaders talk about bringing in tourists and new business, and yet they don’t do anything about the appearance of our county. Do they really believe tourists will think a trashy county is worth visiting? I’d like to think that simple community pride would prod our leaders to do something about the litter problem, but that may be too much to hope for. Maybe the fear of losing tourist money will work.

So, dear grass-cutters, I know it’s not your job to mow around the roadside litter. It will take an extra bit of effort on your part, and that’s not fair to you. But unless the folks who throw their trash on the ground or the folks in local government whose job it is to deal with the trash have a change of heart, you are my last hope. I’ll continue to pick up trash in my neighborhood, and I suspect other local residents will do the same, but simple, random acts of cleanliness won’t be enough. It’s going to take a larger effort by our county government to keep our county clean. I know what you’re thinking – I’ve had the same thoughts… we citizens shouldn’t rely on the government to keep our roads clean. You’re right. In an ideal world, people wouldn’t throw trash out their car windows. In an ideal world, we all would pull together and clean up our roads. But our world isn’t ideal. A tiny percentage of litterers can make our entire county look like a pig sty, and it’s the job of the local government to take charge and clean up the mess. I’m sorry, but that’s just the way the world works. 

So, could you do us a favor and not shred the roadside trash? A lot of folks, including me, would really appreciate your extra effort. Thanks.

Greg Hoover