Trash-Walking Obsession

My son, Jonathan showed me an article from the New Yorker Magazine by David Sedaris in which he describes his obsession with picking up trash wearing his Fitbit to the point he got a garbage truck named after him.  

We don’t have any garbage trucks named after us that we know of, but we understand his obsession.  There are a lot of parallels between David Sedaris and us.

The article is mainly about his Fitbit tracker ruling his life by constantly urging him to higher goals, ultimately reaching 65,000 steps and 12 hours per day.  The Garmin tracker does the same thing, but I got wise to it early on and set the step goal to a constant.  We have reached our physical limit of about 35 miles per week which works out to about 19,000 steps per day we walk.

Although the article is mainly about the Fitbit, David, who currently lives in England, mentions some specifics about the trash.  Some stuff he picks up:

“. . .  a potato-chip bag stuffed into the hollow of a tree, an elderly mitten caught in the embrace of a blackberry bush, a mud-coated matchbook at the bottom of a ditch. Then, there’s all the obvious stuff: the cans and bottles and great greasy sheets of paper that fish-and-chips comes wrapped in.”

We are no strangers to any of this.  Janet has a collection of mismatched gloves, ever hoping for a match to send to Goodwill.  David never mentions our bane, cigarette/marijuana/eCig butts, wrappers and paraphernalia.  Also, from the article,

“We saw David in Arundel picking up a dead squirrel with his grabbers”

Grabbers?  Real men use up-close-and-personal rubber gloves, and our laundry list of flung roadkill is much more diverse.

 “… rolling a tire down the side of the road;  . . . in Pulborough dislodging a pair of Y-fronts from a tree branch.”

As for the tires, in the three years of Trash Walking, we have retrieved about five tires to recycle at our tire store.  The “Y-fronts” sent me on a Google search.


This is English slang, for men’s briefs.  Anyone who has been following our blog knows we find a LOT of these.  The next quote hit close to home.

“A lot of people where we live seem to have sex in their cars. I know this because I find their used condoms, sometimes on the road but more often just off it, in little pull-over areas. In addition to spent condoms, in one of the spots that I patrol I regularly pick up empty KFC containers and a great number of soiled Handi Wipes.”

This is a common occurrence for us, for obvious reasons, more during the summer than winter.  The gloves come in especially handy here.  Finally, he says,

“You can tell where my territory ends and the rest of England begins. It’s like going from the rose arbor in Sissinghurst to Fukushima after the tsunami. The difference is staggering.”

Check our post here for the contrast at the extent of our Saturday walk.

So, yes, David is definitely at the Fitbit’s beck and call, but we could probably give him run for his money about litter.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: