So, I was out on my run yesterday -- beautiful weather -- and once again saw my old friend the discarded diaper.
Way back on October 27th we were buffeted by windstorms. It just so happened that these days-long winds occurred during trash collection day on a certain street in Franklin, and a garbage can disgorged a tightly wrapped disposable diaper. I saw it on the curb as I ran my route a day or two after the storms.
And then I saw it again a few days after that.
Three days later -- still there.
A week later; hadn't budged. (Evidently a hefty, er, load.)
I took the pictures above and below today, November 8th; that's 12 days after the windstorm. At least two trash collection days have come and gone, meaning the homeowners on either side of this discarded diaper looked right at it as they placed their garbage cans by the curb -- and did nothing.
They backed out of their driveways and looked at it -- and did nothing.
What if a neighborhood kid grabs it and gets curious? Didn't seem to occur to anyone living there.
Every time I passed it I considered how I might discard it myself. However, carrying a weeks-old soiled diaper a mile-and-a-quarter back to my house never seemed like a good plan.
But surely, I thought, someone on this street full of carefully manicured lawns will take the time to come out with a plastic bag and take this refuse off the street.
I'd see people out for a walk with their dog and doggie-doo bags; people who pick up raw excrement as a matter of routine. They'd walk right past it.
Today on my way to Moondance for lunch I stopped with an old Target bag and picked up the discarded diaper after I took these pictures. I could feel eyes on me from the surrounding houses. Probably a bit suspicious -- though, on the other hand, their long diaper nightmare had been successfully dealt with. Call me a socialist, if you must.
The "curbside diaper" is an unfortunate visual metaphor for how insular we've become. Though there are surely subdivisions in Franklin and other suburbs that are cared for beyond each homeowner's property edge, there are far too many like this street, which you would be hard-pressed to characterize as a neighborhood. It's just a fast road with houses on either side. I see "perma-refuse" in these kinds of non-places on a regular basis.
Perhaps they are waiting for the city to deal with these sorts of things. The same city which is cutting back municipal services because the cry has gone up that property taxes are too darn high.
But they still want a discarded diaper to magically disappear.
I feel old, because it used to be different. My dad and I used to go for long walks, and he'd pick up whatever refuse he saw -- and tell me to do the same -- and we'd deposit it with the next neighbor we saw out on the porch or out washing their car. There would be "howdys" and the unquestioning acceptance of whatever my dad and I had picked up; into the garage garbage can it would go. You didn't even have to ask -- this was our neighborhood, after all.
But, in my city, this diaper could not be budged from its position.
So, the question is this: When did we start believing that our "community" -- our responsibility -- ends at our individual driveways?