6:32, Thursday morning.
Considering the immense hangover I had New Year’s Day, I’m feeling, on this, The First Day of the New Year Without a Hangover, mostly spry.
Smack dab in the middle of Minneapolis’s latest cold snap, I have managed to avoid the out-of-doors for two full days. At any other time of year, this behavior would be disturbing. It is not any other time of year, however; and my recent foray into full winter acceptance –growing and/or acquiring a protective layer of fat/fleece/cats, saying "What's for breakfast? What do you say, Piglet?" in a Winnie-ther-Pooh voice – coincides nicely with having drank enough for two on New Year’s Eve.
And so it was with a returned spring in my step that I donned, oh, 450 pounds of clothing, girded my well-padded loins for the below-zero temperatures lurking about my front door, and dove into the pre-dawn horrors of a January morning.
Normally, I am alone at this time of day. Today, however, there are two men walking a good distance ahead of me. Surprisingly I catch up with them rather quickly – did they not get the memo about walking briskly on winter mornings?
I am just about to pass them when the one on the right, a man with a gait akin to a three legged wagon, finishes the last of his Coke and then lobs the can onto a neighbor’s front yard.
Silver, red, gleaming in the lamp post’s glow, the can lies on the snow, a testament to incivility and laziness.
I speak without thinking.
“Well what’d you do that for?” I say. “So somebody will take care of it for you?”
The two men stop, turn around. They are full grown. They should know better.
I step into yard, pick up the pop can. The woman who lives there is elderly. Her lawn is rarely mowed, her sidewalk is never shoveled. If I don’t pick this up, it just won’t get picked up.
Neither one of them says a word.
“Local Woman Found Beaten with Empty Coke Can,” the squat, bald man in my head cackles.
I glare at them, the can in one mittened paw. One of them steps aside so that I can pass.
I do so, and within 10, 15 steps I am far ahead of them.
For the rest of the block, and until I cross the street, I can hear them laughing at me.
But there is nothing funny, ladies and gentlemen, about littering.