Saturday, May 15, 2004

Bag Lady

I was at the river with my plastic bag, picking trash. It was hot and green, almost lushly so. My hands were sweating in my new Walgreen's garden gloves, hideous little contraptions made of some improbable, unpleasantly nubbly plastic. They felt like little ovens.

The path was remarkably clean. That's not to say there were none of the usual artifacts from Dunkin Donuts and Poland Springs. But not too many. Cookie and chip packets, candy wrappers, newspapers, bottle caps, styrofoam peanuts -- I scooped them all up, gazing warily at the burgeoning stands of poison ivy. Surely picking trash earns merit points to keep rhus dermatitis at bay.

With my growing load of detritus, I went down one of the several small paths to a riverbank clearing. There I found a whole case full of empty budweiser bottles, and a field of scattered bud cans. Plus some empty snack food packets, and one pink plastic tampax applicator. Parked neatly in the weeds of the pathside was a shopping cart, freshly pinched from the adjacent mega-grocery store, Little Debbie World, which obviously had been used to transport the brewskies to the party lair.

"Swine," I thought, and tried to find compassion for the drunken litterbugs. It was tough. I imagined scrawling the word in the mud with a stick: S W I N E. "They probably can't even read," continued my brain, deeply enjoying -- in fact wallowing in -- one of its favorite kilesas, aversion.

With its load of empties, my bag was full and heavy. I'd have to turn back. Then there was the matter of the shopping cart. There were three options. I could leave it there, limiting my self-defined mission to picking small trash. Of course, chances are it would end up in the river sooner or later. I could phone up Little Debbie World and try to describe the location of the cart and hope they would send someone to fetch it. Or I could push it out myself. The choice was obvious. Plus, I could use it to transport the heavy bag to my car.

This, of course, gave my brain an even more amusing topic.

Omigod, what if someone sees me pushing the cart, they'll think I'm a bag lady picking up empties for nickels, I really do look like an undernourished derelict in these ratty sneakers and these baggy jeans, they'll think I stole the cart, maybe they'll arrest me, I really do need to buy some new clothes, gawd I hate shopping, oh no look a bicyclist, is that a pitying smile she's giving me, she really does think I'm a homeless derelict pushing my shopping cart through the woods, maybe she'll see the gardening gloves and realize what I've been doing, who am I kidding, what if the cart boy at Little Debbie World thinks I've pinched this cart, if he even dares to suggest that I'll tell him off, yeah, I'll tell him I'll bring the cart back where I found it, how would he like to fetch it from the poison ivy laden riverbank ? I'm no bag lady you little twerp I'm a DOCTOR ! See my Hallmark Health parking sticker ? Wanna see my license ?

And so on and so forth.


Greed, hatred, delusion.

Just pick it up.

Just let them go.

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