This morning was the weekly task of raking our front lawn. It’s a weekly task because it’s not leaves or grass that I’m raking, it’s trash. Our front yard is littered with rubbish on a daily basis. I’m talking about old wrappers, sucker sticks, empty bottles, cigarette packs, straws, paper, juice cartons, etc. Just imagine it, I’ve probably raked it. This morning I even found a pair of shorts.

The reason we get all the rubbish is a variety of reasons. One is simply that Indonesian have a habit of throwing trash anywhere and everywhere they want. No need for a garbage can. Out the window, out the door of a taxi, over your shoulder. It doesn’t matter really. The public domain is free for all. Garbage cans are not really provided, and even if they are they are seldom used. It’s not an engrained habit to dispose of trash properly. So it gets tossed helter skelter on the roads and gutters.

Our house also happens to be right next to a fairly popular warung (a warung is a convenient store set up in front of someone’s house). People stop at the warung, fill up their gas, buy a drink, drink it, toss it to the side and they’re on their way. Since we have the only grass around inevitably it all gets blown into our yard. It’s a proximity thing.

I try not to mind all the rubbish. Of course it would be nice to have a nice looking front yard. But I find some consolation knowing that a) I didn’t contribute a single item to the collection out front, and b) I won’t be able to change peoples’ habits or the culture at large in this regard. In other words, it’s not my fault and I can’t do anything about it. So if my yard is trashed it’s a reflection of other people, not me.

The reality though is that it probably bugs me more than it bugs them. Like I said, it’s not something they’re brought up with. I see it as a problem more than they do. So even though it’s not my fault I try to be a good citizen and rake it up. I think my neighbors appreciate it- not that I haven’t littered, but that I care enough to tidy up the yard. It shows I care, and maybe that’s all that’s important.

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