Sacrilegious (sack-reh-LIIH-juss), adjective

Openly insulting or disrespectful to the beliefs, religion, ideas, and practices of others – especially the ones they hold most sacred.

Perfect, I’m early. I’ll stop by the lake to watch the sunrise. It’s another radiant morning. Red skies in morning, sailors take warning. That hasn’t been true all month. This spot is perfect, just across the street from work. I can even spend five minutes here! I love this time of year when the sun rises at the same time I have to go to work and finally my schedule aligns with the sun’s. Something catches my eye. Shimmering atop a park bench? I can’t see it against the sunlight.

Out of my car, I walk over. The air is surprisingly warm for 7am. A beer bottle. Half full of piss water sparkling in the sun. I look around. Piles of trash are scattered across the park floor. Last weekend was New Years and I know that the same out-of-towners on which our town survives have desecrated our parks. The two bear proof trash bins have been jammed full. Old sandwich containers made of plastic with the chip bag still inside protrude from the trash door not letting it close. Beer bottles and party cups are strewn around the base. At least five trash bags, collected out of responsibility and set gently at the base of the trash bins are ripped to shreds, their contents smell like shit. A bag of frozen shrimp lay nibbled open, some shrimp strewn around it’s edges. Whatever animal dug into those didn’t even have the stomach to finish them. It’s 7am…I have to go to work.

I clock in at 7:01 when the chef says I’m early. I clock out and sit at the counter, grab a cup of tea and read the paper. I pleasant morning before serving tables. I look out the window of the restaurant. Through some trees I can see the park. I know what’s there. Leaving it would be sacrilegious.

I grab my jacket and a industrial garbage bag from the kitchen and walk across the street.

“Seriously, you’re going home?!” cries the chef, ready to insist I only have twenty minutes before my shift starts. I’m just going across the street I say.

In moments I fill up the entire 65 gallon trash bag. The shrimp are the worse, second are the three tiny bags of dog shit. Then it’s beer cans, paper plates, used napkins that I pretend have been saturated by the night due, even though there has not been a single speck of moisture in the air since November. Two sets of doorknobs I consider keeping and one used spark plug I actually do keep only to have the guys in the kitchen tell me it’s no good.

I’m afraid this bag isn’t big enough. I pull the garbage sticking out of the pulldown lids and put it in the bag. I do this until the garbage bins can close on their own. I tie the garbage bag tight and set in next to the bins. I have effectively done what all those other people did, collect trash and set in unsafely next to the metal box it should be in. I hope whatever animals rummaged through here won’t want to come back. I assume they are probably sick somewhere and that the garbage will be collected before the day is over.

I look at the lake. The sunrise has progressed to more brilliant colors and I walk to the water to rinse off my hands. Perfect. This lake it perfect. The water doesn’t even feel cold, just refreshing. I should go to work.

I turn around and see ten more pieces of trash, a party cup, some napkins, a crumpled piece of tin foil. I pick them up and shove them into the bag I had so tightly closed. There’s more. A gum wrapper, some shreds of something. Another goddamn party cup. Today could be stormy….as these red skies are falsely warning. How quickly all of this could blow into the lake. I contemplate carrying the bag to the dumpster across the street and pleading that I use it this once, even though it is only for the restaurant and we have strict rules about filling it up with other people’s trash. The bag it too heavy. I can’t even lift it and dragging it would just rip a hole in the bottom. So I leave it. I don’t know what else to do.

After work, I go home. I don’t want to see that another dog or raccoon, even a bear might come down this late in the winter since there’s no snow yet, has come and torn it all up again. This time that bag I left was my responsibility, I was the one to put it there, to leave it unprotected against curious and starving animals. Tomorrow I’ll go check it and I’ll bring another bag just in case.


2 thoughts on “Sacrilegious

  1. Yeah, the sunrises and sunsets have been particularly amazing lately- or is it just that I have been seeing them?

    The Lake told me to tell you: thanks for picking up the trash.

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