Boating in Mentone Beach

Ever since I learned that David Sedaris spends up to 8 hours in day picking up trash along the roadside, I’ve dared to go public with my habit. I’m not as obsessive as David is but I figure that since I’m out walking my dogs anyway, I might as well carry a trash bag with me. The dogs are more than happy to stop to smell the news along the way while I clean up after people who are, let’s say, less fastidious than I am.

During the week I fill my bags and set them along the trail, and then on the weekend I ride my bike with the kiddie trailer in tow and pick them up. David either makes up stuff that makes for good stories about what he finds, or he has much more interesting neighbors than I do. My pickings are primarily beverage containers and fast-food packaging, but then there are things like an ice machine, a kid’s plastic tricycle, a spoiler from a car, a jet ski, and recently there was a boat, complete with trailer. Seriously! I’m not making this up.

This was too big for my bike trailer.

As I pick up trash, I wonder about what kind of person tosses his/her trash along the road. Jaime, the security guard at the complex at the end of the road tells me they’re just normal people. He sees them drive to the end of the road and shove their household furnishings off the back of the truck, or pull down their pants and squat to pee (or worse), or climb into the back seat for a quick tryst, or simply park and consume a six-pack and listen to the radio. This leads me to speculate on what their home life must be like if it’s preferable to do these things at the end of my street. I can conjure up whole back stories of these common folks and how they came to litter my hiking trail.

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Another activity that goes on in the dark of night, or at least when I’m not there, is spinning a vehicle in circles. Evidence indicates that the gist of the game is that one circle an object, here it’s a derelict tire, churning up gravel and dirt, at a high rate of speed. I can’t really appreciate the allure of putting unnecessary wear and tear on a vehicle, but my great-nephew explained that “burning” is great fun. He explained that he had purchased five extra wheels just to put spare tires on them so that when one set was burned out, they could be instantly replaced with another set. The look on my face when he explained this to me must have conveyed my utter lack of comprehension because he quickly returned to working on his car.

I’ve made it my job to keep Opal Avenue trash free from the highway to the Santa Ana River, which is about 1 1/2 miles. It doesn’t sound like much but it’s proving to be a Sisyphean task, much like painting the San Francisco Bay bridge. Before I get to the end of the road, the part I’ve cleaned is a mess again. Whatever happened to the ditty, “Please, please don’t be a litter bug…cuz every litter bit hurts”?

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