Yesterday I ran a pile of invoices and other mail down to the post office. As I parked my car, a group of four teenagers was walking up the street toward me. One of them was drinking a large soda from a paper cup, and as they got nearer, he tossed it.. not in the trash can ten feet in front of him, but on the sidewalk, where it bounced off a store front, spilling some of its remaining contents.
"Jerk" was the first thing that came to mind. Probably I thought his parents might be responsible for not instilling some basic social responsibility, and I also wished that there were a cop nearby - though a cop probably would have just ignored it, which is a whole other problem to my mind. I wasn't about to confront four teenagers over that: I'm strong and in good shape, but I'm quite sure the four of them could take me down pretty quickly. Not that it necessarily would have become physical; if I had said something they might have just slunk off or been happy to salute me in the time honored single digit fashion. But I wasn't going to take that chance over littering.
I said I suspect most cops would have turned a blind eye too. They might argue that they have better things to do, that it's not worth the hassle. Maybe.. but a person with no respect for society as evidenced by careless littering is probably a person who is uncaring about other things. I think it is worth hassling them, fining them, taking up their time. I think it improves society in general and might retard or prevent some other unpleasant behavior.
And that's where video surveillance enters the picture. If I knew that video cameras were watching that street, and knew that the teenagers were aware of that too, I would have felt a lot more comfortable yelling at the little miscreant to pick up his trash. If there were cameras, he might not have tossed it to begin with.
I know, I know: the ACLU wants me to send my card back. I don't see it. I do not see a problem with public surveillance. As I've said before, it's no different than if a cop happened to be there. I would have called the littering to their attention or it might never have happened at all.
I went in the post office and put my mail in the appropriate slots. I meant to go pick up the cup on my way out, but got distracted by something and forgot.. I remembered as I was half way home and became annoyed with myself, so now I'm upset with the kids, their supposedly negligent parents, the non-existent cops, and myself.. that made me laugh: one small piece of trash and I'm doing mental flagellations of half a dozen people..
Oh well.. I suppose it gives the DPW guys something to do. They need a paycheck too.
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