I was walking down the street recently, coming home from Staters with a bit of groceries and noticed a couple, a man and a woman and a small child walking not far in front of me. As they were walking, I saw that the woman took a torn up receipt and as ze was walking — ze let the pieces slowing flutter from hir hand to the sidewalk. As ze was walking down the street! Littering! I could hardly believe what I just witnessed!
It astounds me that people actually do this and I have actually had a difficult time understanding such shocking behavior.
Almost immediately I ran up to them and addressing hir, asked with the greatest curiosity, “Why did you litter just now?” Ze turned to the man ze was with and spoke to hir in what sounded like Spanish, and then the both of them turned to the child as if the child had done something wrong. They seemed to not understand a single word I had said. I then turned to the woman, and said, “You didn’t understand a word I said. Oh, well.” And with a sigh, I walked off.
Frustrated, I called a good friend who has traveled quite a bit in Central and South America and from what ze told me, in many of these nations, littering isn’t given a second thought, people just do it, and the streets and roads simply lay littered with trash. Ze told me that I shouldn’t even try to understand it, it’s pretty much part of the culture and that the better choice, especially here in the U.S. and in our case, Pomona, is to when you see someone littering and you can’t communicate, rather than being frustrated, get their attention, pick up the trash that they just dropped, hold it for them to clearly see and then point to the trash and then the ground and back again and say, firmly, but calmly, “No por favor. No por favor.” And then simply walk off.
This method I thought was fantastic! It directly, firmly, calmly, and unaccusedly lets them know that in this place, that that kind of behavior is simply not okay. Well, I felt so much better then and I thought I’d pass the word along. “No por favor” are some great words to say. And now Pomona is the wellest, unlittered, most shining, beautiful city!