On a recent Saturday, there was a car parked at the end of my driveway when I was leaving to cover an assignment. At first, I thought maybe someone had broken down, because I could vaguely see someone digging around in their trunk.
As I got to the end of my driveway, I realized the man was wearing an orange vest and held heavy duty orange bags in his hands. Everything looked to be okay.
I was in a hurry, so I just waved to the man and went about my business. I didn’t roll my window down to ask his name, but in hindsight, I wish I had.
While traveling down the hill from my home, I saw a woman, also wearing an orange vest, stooped in the ditch picking up trash that passersby had carelessly tossed out of their car windows.
I admit that I felt a little guilty. Here was a kind couple, sweating it out on the side of my road picking up garbage. I’m sure they had other things that they’d rather be doing, but that day they chose to make a difference in their community.
On my way to where I was headed, I thought of that couple and what it means to have people like them in Louisa County.
I, too, have picked up litter along the roadways, only to become angry a day later when more unsightly trash found its way in the formerly pristine ditch. I admit, I haven’t picked up trash for a few years.
It can be frustrating and gives you a feeling of utter defeat when you see all your hard work go unappreciated by the insensitive and careless individuals who don’t think twice before pitching that fast food bag out the window.
But there are others who do appreciate it and wouldn’t dream of fouling up the roadsides with cigarette butts, drink cans, dirty diapers and the other lurid items that can be found when picking the garbage out of the grass.
Know that there are many who salute those of you who bend over all day removing the ugliness that accumulates along the back roads and highways. We know that your muscles are weary at the end of the day and we share your sense of pride in having accomplished something worthwhile.
I was gone for several hours, but when I came home, the roadside was impressively clean. I wondered how many bags the couple had filled.
When I approached the top of the hill to turn into my driveway, there were five bags stacked neatly at the end of my drive—the fruits of their day’s labor.
Thank you, whoever you are. Next time, I will stop and thank you personally.
Even better, I may just come down there and give you a hand.
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If you would like to Adopt-A-Highway through the Virginia Department of Transportation’s program, contact Teri Welsh, the highway adoption coordinator for VDOT at the Charlottesville office, by calling (434) 422-9373. You may also send her an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.