Polluter’s penance
When litter becomes historical treasure

It was my second summer working construction.

We were driving between job sites on Route 83, probably the most scenic stretch of highway in the Lower 48. (Yes, I am biased.) Dom was driving, Chad was in the middle and me on passenger window end. What possessed me to do it I will never know. I think I was trying to keep my lunch box clean. Maybe it the sugar rush from the Oatmeal Creamie pie. Whatever the reason, and to this day I am still perplexed why, I cracked open the window and let the clear plastic wrapper fly out in the wind.

Litter, or historical artifact?

It wasn’t two moments later when Chad turned in accusation.

“You just threw that wrapper out the window!”

“No I didn’t,” I responded.

“You did. I saw you do it.”

Dom looked over and chimed in. “You’re kidding?”

Years later on Cape Cod another friend Ben put some empty cans we’d drunk on the golf course in the back of his truck which, out on Highway Route 6, flew out of the bed.

As bad as he felt he didn’t let it bring him down.

“I just picked up ten times as many cans from the side of another road to make up for it. ¬†You know, as penance,” he later explained.

Don’t see many pull-tabs anymore.

That made sense.

Except for one problem.

Oatmeal Creamie pie wrappers are really hard to find.

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