20 June 2011
Keeping a large city like DC clean is the responsibility of everyone who lives here, visits here, and works here. Unfortunately, there will always be misanthropes among us who just don't care if they toss a bag of fast food detritus out their car window. Sometimes you see the result of this carelessness, and you think, "Boy, if only I could have caught that jerk in the act!" Well, I did, and here's what happened...
I was standing on the sidewalk in the shade of a tree on the 1700 block of Pennsylvania Avenue NW, having just finished talking to my brother on the phone, when a couple walking their dog approached from the east. It's a sight you see a million times a day in the city, and it hardly registered at first. I did notice that the woman walking the dog was moving towards one of the trees, and I thought, "That's a well-manicured tree box, would be a shame if the dog messes it up." Bright pink flowers shared the space with a young oak tree.
The dog defecated in the tree box. Again, something you see every day. The strange part was that the couple continued their conversation and began to walk away without doing anything about the mess the dog had left behind. Incensed that anyone could do anything so careless, I spoke up and said to the woman, "We're you planning to do anything about that?"
The couple stopped, glanced at me incredulously, then at each other. I spoke again, saying, "That's your responsibility. You can't just leave that mess there."
The woman nervously laughed and said, "Oh, I forgot to bring any bags with me. Do you have one?"
I couldn't believe where this was going. We were standing in front of a cafe, and I recommended that they go inside and see if they could get a carry-out bag to remove the dog waste. That recommendation was met with blank stares. I continued to press the point, but they really didn't want to hear any more of it. The gentleman had nothing to say, and the woman gave a forced smirk and they proceeded to walk away.
At this point, I was angry and not sure what I could do. Scream out, "Hey, those people didn't pick up their dog's shit!"? That would have drawn the attention of perhaps nine other people within earshot, and probably nothing else. I did still have my phone in my hand, so I thought, "I'm going to take a picture of these fools."
I followed behind them and grabbed this shot as a test to make sure the camera was working:
We got to the corner of 18th and Pennsylvania, and I stepped around them and pointed the phone straight at them and snapped the shot at the top of this post. They pretended to ignore me, then kissed and walked in separate directions—he continued west on Pennsylvania Avenue, she went north up 18th Street.
I don't know where they live, or even if they are DC residents. The badge hanging from the gentleman's belt leads me to believe he works somewhere nearby, but I didn't see it clearly and my photograph isn't sharp enough to ascertain that information. The woman had an accent that I couldn't nail down. Was it French? Eastern European? Clearly, I'm no linguist, but I could tell that English wasn't her first language, and I also am certain that there was no misunderstanding due to language that would lead them to leave the dog poop in the tree box.
So, what do I want from this? I'd like to see these people positively identified and publicly shamed. Some unfortunate worker from the Golden Triangle BID has probably already cleaned up the mess left by these anti-social jerks, but it would be nice to make sure they know that what they did was noticed, and that the people of this city don't approve of people who think it's okay to crap on DC and try to get away with it.