Friday, August 18, 2006

My Dream for America


I HAVE A HISTORY WITH BUTTS.

Now that I have your attention, let me tell you
a little story. In 1988 I was a Housekeeping
Manager at a Courtyard by Marriott in the sunny
destination of Detroit Michigan. For some odd reason,
one of the jobs I was tasked with, was making sure that
there were no cigarette butts in the parking lot.
Ironically, this was probably the closest I've ever come
in my life to becoming a smoker. All...and I'm not
exaggerating here...my friends and co-workers smoked.
In fact, that dark cloud you'd see rising above Detroit
wasn't from industry...it' was from all the smokers. In
1988, everybody in Detroit smoked...Surgeon General be
damned! So after smoking 3 of the 5 cigarettes I've
smoken (is that a word?) I escaped both Detroit, and
any possibility of me becoming a smoker. I have
nothing against smokers. Some of my best friends
over the years have smoked...and I think most of
them are still alive.

Now...back to the parking lot. While stooping and
bending countless thousands of times, gathering
nasty butts from the ground and placing them in
a plastic bag, I concocted the following scheme.
I would lobby my local, county, state and federal
officials to place a minimal deposit on each cigarette
so that people wouldn't throw their butts on the
ground. This worked in Michigan where there is
a 10 cent deposit on each bottle or can. There are
absolutely zero cans or bottles on the ground
anywhere in Michigan. If nothing else, the butt
deposit would give the homeless something to do
and some money in their pocket.

In 1989, I left Detroit and my "dream" of a butt
deposit ended...or did it?

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2001:
"Under a proposed law thought to be the first of its
kind in the nation, smokers would pay a surcharge for
every cigarette pack they buy in Maine. Then they could
redeem the butts for a nickel each.
"It's not a joke," said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Joseph Brooks,
who modeled the legislation after Maine's bottle-return law,
which requires consumers to pay a 5-cent deposit on most
soft-drink and beer bottles.
With more and more smokers forced outside, Brooks noted
the piles of butts appear where pockets of puffers congregate.
And the trash tends to stick around because, he said, filters
are not biodegradable.

So I'm guessing that Rep. Brooks also had to pick up butts
in a parking lot once in his life and was inspired. However,
my idea came a full 11 years before his. If this law ever
passes, I want credit for it's inspiration.

It only makes sense that state governments would want to
support a bill like this. They could charge a huge deposit
on a pack of cigarettes and collect tons of money from
people who would never turn in their butts for a refund
for a specific reason:

Tom's Theory on people.
(Yes this is controversial and if you're the least bit squeamish...
go to another web page or look at my pretty pictures instead)

Ahem...1. People are stupid
2. People are lazy
3. Usually in that order

And this comes from someone who genuinely likes people.
Think how anti-social types must feel...

Here are the results of the cigarette deposit:
1. Some people will be too stupid or lazy to keep their butts.
2. Uncollected refunds will be kept by the states for schools
for environmental awareness education. Not for anti-smoking
education. If people want to smoke...let them.
3. If people are still flicking their butts and not turning them
in for a refund, people will scour the roadsides and parking
lots for discarded butts...helping both the economy and the
environment
4. Less roadside wildfires in dry states from discarded butts
5. A sense of self gratification for me because I thought of the idea

So there you go. All this brought on by some angry looking
woman that flicked a butt near my feet today at a local strip
mall. I started to give her a dirty look, but then reconsidered,
put a smile on my face, and placed the empty pop can that I
picked up in the parking lot into the trash can.

Yes, I have too much time on my hands and I am a geek.
So there!
Have a nice day!

2 comments:

Jude said...

I think you should sell t-shirts with that line--"Some of my best friends over the years have smoked...and I think most of
them are still alive."

I use a reacher/extend-a-hand/grabber thing to pick up trash when I go for walks. Decomposing cigarette butts are one of the main things I find, along with beverage containers.

I hadn't thought about the butt problem in terms of Colorado's new smoking ban, but I can see this being a problem.

Now if you'd only *recycled* that empty pop can....

Leslie said...

I love this post. Fantastic Idea! Ok, so I will now think more about where I leave my disgusting cigarette butts. Which by the way I have never tossed at someone's feet. Also I'm not sure I would ever save them, money or not they smell too gross.