“What is WRONG with you?” I heard that phrase a thousand times when I was growing up. Various people said it on multiple occasions. Those voices were sometimes accompanied by a shake of the shoulders that would rattle my teeth. I took the question literally and would turn it over and over in my mind: “WHAT is wrong with me?” or “What IS wrong with me?” The same question, on the third or fourth reflection came back in my head with a strong note of incredulity: “What is wrong with ME?”
That last one would change the feeling of fear and confusion into righteous indignation. That felt so much better than those other emotions I have carried it with me all my life. I’ve honed that righteous indignation over the years. It is still sharp and I still use it. I’m going to use it here, and I want you to feel it with me!
Every day, I work for my community. Sometimes I work directly in my neighborhood by caring for two “Adopt A Spots” that I maintain through an agreement with Keep Prince William Beautiful. Sometimes I work outside my neighborhood like when I tend the rose garden at the commuter lot on Dale Boulevard.
I attend lots of meetings and sit on numerous boards and councils and try to be an active participant in all of them. I actually spend quite a bit of money in caring for Prince William County on everything from trimmer line and mower blades to membership fees and donations. I’ve never tried to total the hours I volunteer my labor, but I’m certain I spend well over forty hours a week on everything from physical labor to writing this blog.
I have a lot invested, so when I see litter or dog feces left on the ground by some thoughtless owner, I grab that righteous indignation and exclaim, “What is WRONG with these people?”
On Sunday, we (My husband, Bill, gets dragged into most weekend work with me.) worked on Lindendale Road, first at our Adopt a Spot next door to Dale City Christian Church and then mowing for a widow who is unable to do her own yard work. The first thing we do is pick up litter so we don’t mow it into confetti. We pick up the most disgusting, vile things you can ever imagine. We use “grabbers” to stay as far away as possible from used tampons, used prophylactics and dirty diapers. I am repeating over and over again: “What is wrong with these PEOPLE?”
My friend Linda has an agreement with the bus company. They supply four waste cans at the bus stops on Dale Boulevard near Glendale. She empties them and puts clean bags in them on a regular basis. First, I am indignant she has to do that at all. It is a bus company rule that food or drink cannot be brought on the bus. If there is no trash can, people throw it on the ground. Actually, people still throw it on the ground, even with the can right there.
My friend, a grandmother, empties those cans that people have used to dispose of everything from their household trash to stinking, maggot-ridden food and dog feces! “What is wrong with THESE people?”
I want you to find that sense of righteous indignation. Use it like a tool to stop litter, educate ignorant people, report crime, and volunteer in your community. The people that are working out here to make things better need your help and support. We need more from you than you are giving. Week after week, I ask you to join something like the Neabsco Action Alliance or attend a meeting of the Neighborhood Leaders Group. I know you work, you commute, you have children, you have commitments. Most of the volunteers I know have the same responsibilities. Join up with us.I don’t want you to be one of “THOSE” people!