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Trash talk that helps

For about 10 years now, I have taken it upon myself to pick up the litter on the most traveled, first three miles of Latigo Canyon Road. No court-mandated community service, no signs proclaiming the name of my business, no newspaper stories. I “just do it.”

On my twice-weekly sojourns, I pick up trash on one side of the street while driving down the hill on my way to work. I clean up the other side on my way home.

There is a lot of wear and tear on the old ’89, six-cylinder Dodge Caravan. The more litter there is, the more stops I must make. And with the inevitable increase in population and homes, so is the increase of litter. That’s how it is. The Realtors like what I do. It’s easier to sell homes in a clean canyon. Most residents who have been property owners for a period longer than the next price increase of their homes enjoy the absence of litter. Nine out of 10 drivers who pass me slow down from the posted 35 miles per hour speed limit to wave or honk in thanks.

The most common litter: cigarette packs, empty beer bottles, soda cans and fast food wrappers. I call this stuff “contractor trash.” I can’t blame the contractors. They are never around! And when you get one of them on the phone they say, “Call the subs.” That’s how it is.

The most valuable item found: a new Husky Brand 36-piece ratchet set (Home Depot price, $89.95.) Do you think I turned it into the sheriff’s lost and found? “Call the subs.” The saddest thing found: a decaying juvenile deer carcass with a broken hunting arrow protruding from its side. Hunting is legal in our canyon. That’s how it is.

Late last year I had six recruits. Neighborhood kids (elementary-school age), packed in the Honda Quad with its trailer, helped me on my day off from work. (It’s too dangerous to do this on Sundays anymore due to the 60 to 70 mph “Ninja” cafe motorcycles that race through Latigo. The kids and I were on the far right side of the road, halfway up on the asphalt berm on a straight-away when a new, large, V-8 sized, black Spoiled Utility Vehicle blared its horn (long burst), and the 30ish male driver with trendy sunglasses displayed the middle finger of his right hand in the “profound highway salute” because he had to slow down from 50 mph to the posted speed limit. His license plate frame read, “Malibu, A Way of Life.” Using her left hand, my 7-year-old daughter carefully bent down all but her middle finger of her right hand in imitation of that driver. Waving her gesturing hand in front of me, she proclaimed, “Look Dad, the man was so happy he did this!” I got such a chuckle out of that incident. The sad thing is that just recently, this same individual again expressed his road rage while passing us. In addition to his hand gesture, he shouted the “F” word at the kids through his open window. I know what you are thinking, readers. Yes, that was a hard one to explain! I guess the kids have to learn about the real world some day, but for now they still believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy.

My message to this driver is — as soon as your house makes enough money for you, move out with the same speed as you got here. These kids and I were born here and brought up here and we’ll be picking up after your type for years after you’re gone.

Recently, someone else in our canyon became a trash vigilante. We want to thank you, whoever you are. You don’t realize how many skunks, opossum, raccoon, coyotes, deer and other animals you have saved by reducing the sweet-smelling food wrappers that lure them into the roadways.

If this proposed “Latigo Ranch Retreat” (the yurt project) is allowed to be built up here, we’ll need a lot more help and many more speed limit signs. That’s how it is.

Jefferson Wagner

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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