Opinions, Column

No Excuse For Trashy Dining Hall Behavior

Do you know what bothers me? Leaves stuck in the windshield wiper while I’m driving. Even more than that, though, I hate when people leave their trash in a place that is NOT the trashcan. It’s common courtesy, people. Do you think your trash will magically disappear, spirited away by some friendly elves living under the floorboards?

I work at Addie’s in the evenings, and after we close at 9 p.m., we still have to clean up. One of our cleaning duties is to wipe down the empty tables upstairs in Lower. The evening shift is always tiring and hectic and busy, even without having to throw away dirty plates, cups, utensils, napkins, and other random trash. One of the most ridiculous things I’ve seen, though, is when people take their trash and place it about two feet away from the trashcan. I feel personally offended when I see this. Are they doing this to spite me? How did they miss the trashcan? It is clearly marked. The worst thing about this laziness, though, is that if one person leaves his or her trash on a random countertop, other people think that it is a sign telling them to leave their trash there as well. Rather than picking up after the other person out of the goodness of his or her heart, one thinks that it is a green light to throw polite behavior out the metaphorical window. Apparently, if one sheep jumps off a cliff, all the other sheep must jump, too.

This is not the same as leaving trash lying about, but I bracket it under general dining etiquette. Spills. Why do people leave spills behind? Do they think that no one else will use that table after them? Do they want disposable tables, one use only? Once while cleaning after my shift, I saw a huge glob of tomato sauce on a table. When I say huge, I don’t mean the contents of a small to-go container. I mean that this glob of tomato sauce covered about half of the table. At that point, I was just questioning where someone got so much tomato sauce. For the record, it was disgusting and a pain to clean because some of it had dried onto the table. It would have been more manageable if he or she had at least attempted to clean it up. You can’t blame someone for failing, but you can blame someone for not even freaking trying.

I will confess: I, too, have felt the urge to leave my trash lying around because, as a member of the human race, I am also awful. But, I’ve never done it, because my mom would kill me if I did. Nevertheless, I always try to come up with excuses in my head for people who do leave their trash outside of the trashcan. Maybe the trashcan was too far and he was busy. Maybe she was running late to a class or work. Maybe he forgot that they had a meeting or had to print something. On my more creative days, I wonder whether she was raised with house elves to clean up after him or her. I try to convince myself that, raised in a household that enslaves magical creatures, she probably never learned the concepts of cleaning up and manners. When I’m feeling generous, I say, maybe he didn’t have enough hands to carry the trash and is on his way back to get the rest. Or, maybe, she wandered away in a fit of fairy-induced amnesia and just forgot about the trash, as well as her identity. Maybe, he had no choice in the matter and left his trash when he was kidnapped by well-wishing friends to be dunked into a bathtub full of spaghetti. But, admit it. It probably was laziness and is laziness and will be laziness.

It is not my job, nor anyone else’s job (unless he or she happens to be his or her house-elf or mother or maybe someone he or she pays to clean up after him or her), to clean up your trash. Maybe trash cans should be marked on maps along with exits and fire extinguishers so that people would have no excuse for this kind of behavior. Maybe there should be a mandatory online class to go with the alcohol safety programs at the beginning of the year. If you are one of those terrible human beings that let others do your work for you, I call you out. Here and now. Stop it. Haven’t you ever heard of the saying, “No trash left behind?” No, neither have I, but it should be a thing. Shh. Shh. I don’t want your excuses. Unless you are giving birth or spontaneously combusting, clean up after yourself.

Disclaimer: The writer’s views are not actually this extreme—she was just in a state of agitated excitement when she churned out this Public Service Announcement. Please don’t hate me.

Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Staff

October 29, 2014