Tuesday, October 05, 2010


I don’t know who assigned me the job of worrying about perfect strangers, but I find myself with yet another random person to feel responsible for.

Mentally, I just think of him as the Marlboro-Smokin’ Dude of Seventh Avenue. I wish his own mother would worry about him, but somehow she foisted it off on me.

About a year ago, I mentioned that I had made myself the designated neighborhood garbage picker-upper. As long as I was out walking my 2-to-4 miles in my neighborhood anyway, I might as well make myself useful and pick up the trash along the streets. So twice a week, I make sure I bring along a bag or two and I clean up my neighborhood. I net about four bags of garbage a week. (We are evidently a very trashy 'hood.)

About a year ago, I started noticing the Marlboro-Smokin’ Dude. Every day, like clockwork, he throws out an empty Marlboro pack in almost exactly the same spot on Seventh Avenue. He crumples up that cellophane-wrapped pack and tosses it out his car window right into the curb—slam, dunk, two points. So if I pick up garbage on a Saturday, for instance, and then go out again on Tuesday, I can be sure that there will be three crumpled Marlboro packs in the gutter. Bing, bing, bing. He’s my man. Dependable as the sunrise.

So this morning, I was worried. It had been three days since I had last picked up garbage. My bag was already half full by the time I got to Marlboro-Smokin’ Dude’s little stretch of road.

Whoa. What was this?!? No crumpled Marlboro packs.

I scratched my head. Was something wrong? Did Marlboro-Smokin’ Dude move? Was he sick? Give up smoking? Take a different route to work? Did he die of Marlboro-induced lung cancer?

I worried the whole way down Seventh Avenue. Was he okay? Sure he was a littering slob, but he was my littering slob.

Before I headed home, I decided to search Marlboro-Smokin’ Dude’s gutter one more time. Fallen autumn leaves made my search more difficult. I took another swipe through, kicking aside leaves as I went.

He wasn’t dead after all. There, nestled among the brown leaves, was his signature crumpled Marlboro pack. Thank goodness. I thought I was going to have to call the police with a missing person report. Granted, it was only one pack instead of the three I was expecting. But at least I knew he was alive and coughing—er, kicking.


Elaine said...

I think he's using nicotine patches now.

Dana @ Bungalow'56 said...

Wow... so he drives by and throws the pack in the same place e.v.e.r.y time? That's kind of weird isn't it?

You be careful it may be a sting operation. Sting of what sort I'm not sure. Maybe some of that garbage is highly valuable to someone.

Watch your back...


bd said...

That is funny! On our stretch of township gravel road at the end of the driveway...are beer cans that I pick up-different brands...your deal is truly unique:-)