Hold your laughter, please

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First Posted: 7/14/2014

As I’ve written in a previous column, when people learn about the positive nature of my business, Laugh to Live, they think that I must be laughing all the time. While I do want to make as many people laugh as possible and I believe in the power of laughter and humor with all of my heart, I am not always laughing, nor do I find everything to be funny. Here’s list of a few things that I do not find funny – even a little bit:

• Litter: Throwing trash on the ground is akin to murder in my book. I can’t understand what takes place in someone’s mind that it seems acceptable to just throw cups, wrappers, cans, etc. on Mother Earth’s floor. Would you drop stuff on your own floor or that of a restaurant? Have these people been raised by wolves? I think wolves have better manners.

• Cigarette butts: You might think this fits in the above category, but I beg to differ. This problem is so un-funny to me that it demands its own bullet. I am not a smoker but I am not judging the habit itself. In college I smoked a few cigarettes at happy hour on Friday after class at the Rathskeller in State College, but thankfully I did not become addicted. I don’t care if someone chooses to smoke (or is addicted and is having trouble quitting) – that is your choice. I have my own bad habits like: procrastinating, pouring on too much sarcasm, drinking too much coffee, and watching junk TV on Bravo, but these habits do not affect the beauty of the community. I don’t toss my coffee cups on the ground or project bad reality TV shows onto the side of buildings in town. I’m not sure where it was written that cigarette butts are pretty or biodegradable (most filters contain a form of plastic, not cotton). I understand that one butt seems small (as someone who has picked up litter in my neighborhood, they are a real pain in the butt to pick up) but they are not invisible, and when you see a cluster of them or a puddle after rainfall, it is butt ugly! Go ahead, light up. Smoke them if you got them, I say, but for the love of God, please take the time to walk your butt to the nearest can.

• Roaming dogs: I love dogs. I grew up with pets in the house so I understand the title “Man’s Best Friend.” I don’t understand why some people let their dog roam through the streets like it’s New Delhi (India has the highest number of roaming dogs in the world and suffers the most deaths from rabies). I understand that having a dog requires extra work, but unless a relative died and left the dog to you in their will, you made a choice. You made a commitment. And as much as I love dogs, I don’t love stepping in dog crap near my car – a gift made available to me because the owner of a dog is too lazy to walk the dog (a missed opportunity for great exercise for both creatures), too cheap to invest in an invisible fence or fenced-in area of the yard, or too irresponsible to give a crap where their dog craps. If what I’m saying sounds selfish, let me state the part that’s most important to the dog: a dog that roams in the street may get hurt by a car that can’t stop quickly enough or it may encounter another creature who doesn’t want to be his best friend.

• Cars parked in a fire lane: There are plenty of handicapped parking placards in Northeast Pennsylvania. It’s not my charge to determine who is or isn’t handicapped and to what degree, but there are people out there who are clearly not handicapped who seem to belong to a special VIP club that allows them to park in the fire lane at shopping centers. Every time I visit the Keyser Oak Shopping Center in Scranton, my blood pressure increases because the fire lane is filled with cars. I’ve watched as these able-bodied – but obviously very busy and super important – people hop in and out of their cars and trucks to run in to the dry cleaners, the dollar store, or the liquor store. Some of you may say, “I do that because I’m running in for just five minutes to grab one item or to pick up one bottle of Patron.” I hear you. But let me counter with this: What do you think the rest of us are doing? I’m not stomping the grapes for my Chardonnay and sticking around while it ages in an oak barrel. We’re all there for just a few minutes. None of us plan on renting space at the store. So unless you have some type of limiting disability and all of the handicapped spots are filled, join the rest of us parked in the regular parking space and walk those daunting 30 to 50 feet. Think of it this way: you’re burning calories so you can feel less guilty indulging in whatever food and drink you enjoy most. And if you’re a smoker, take the extra time to finish your cigarette. Just think of me when you’re finished and please put your butt in the right place.