Quote of the Week 13: What can you do?


This hasn’t been the best week. It began with a battle against the dreaded norovirus, my stepfather having a very lucky escape from an accident at work, and the call from my tenants that the oven from the brand new kitchen that was installed last year is broken. And my bank balance looking pretty grim.

Discouraged, beaten, broken, tired, disheartened – all adjectives that would quite accurately describe how I felt at points this week.

On Saturday evening, I was trudging home from a crazy day at work. I’d come off the bus, and was walking to my home when I saw a man I would estimate to be in his early 60s coming along the pavement from the opposite direction. He had a plastic shopping bag and a litter picker – and was picking up litter as he went along.

I smiled at him and said jokingly said something like “Is this you out picking up litter?”

His reply was not the one I expected.

“Well, I’ve nothing better to do” he replied

I smiled at him again, probably looking at him curiously.

“I always do this when I go out on my walks, I like living here and it’s nice to be able to make it look a little better. So when I go for my walk, I bring my litter picker”.

“That’s a really lovely thing to do,” I said, “Thank you for doing that!”

It was his turn to look surprised, and he thanked me for saying thank you.

His attitude really encouraged me. I too often am so busy moaning about everything I can’t do right now, that I forget about what I can do. And I sure am sick of folks moaning about how rubbish our community is, our city is and all the things that are there to complain about. Yet, we expect others to sort the problems for us, or expect that they’ll magically disappear.

This man I imagine is retired and uses some time to get some gentle exercise, fresh air…and makes his community that little bit better by cleaning up what others have left.

I posted about him on our local neighbourhood watch page. Others mentioned having seen him before, someone suggested trying to locate him so we could do something nice for him, and one person said “but shouldn’t the council be cleaning things up“. I can understand as our city council is pretty rubbish. But I don’t feel like it’s the council’s job to do anything more than clean the pavements every now and again, and provide the waste collection and recycling services our taxes pay for.

I couldn’t help but reply “Shouldn’t we all be not dropping litter?

I guess there’s always something we can be doing, with what we’ve got, where we are.


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