One-man mess maker

Dear President Trump,

How is it for you when you travel or you are on vacation (or both)? Do you stick with your routines – get up at the same time as usual, eat the same stuff, get the same amount of exercise? I’m guessing that for you, the answers are largely “yes”, though you probably do get in more golf when you are at one of your resorts than when you are stuck at the White House. I’m not saying that it’s likely you get more exercise when in resort-land since you almost certainly use a golf cart rather than walk the greens, but at least you are outside getting some natural light.

Anyway, when I’m traveling or on vacation my routines tend to go out the window. I sleep late, I don’t get as much exercise, and because I’m eating out a lot more, my diet gets pretty messed up. I love vacations. I like sleeping late (later, anyway), I like taking more leisurely walks, and I like not cooking and getting to eat different stuff than usual. And, as I get older, I also like the return to normal, the return to my routines. Because this week is a weird one with workdays bordering the Wednesday holiday day, it’s going to be a mix of on/off routine, sort of an easing back in to on-routine, I guess.

This morning I’m back in routine mode and as such got up at the usual weekday time to take a walk. Since I’d been seeing a fair bit of litter on the street in front of our house during the past week’s cursory dog walks, I decided on a relatively short litter pick-up route of about a mile. Things went fine on our block – there were several noteworthy pieces of trash (an empty cigarette pack, the plastic lid from a to-go meal), but nothing too yucky. The next block, however, looked like someone had dumped all the debris from their Jack-in-the-Box meal all over the street and sidewalk, which is almost certainly precisely what they did. Crushed cups, plastic lids, straws, little plastic sauce cups, ketchup packets, burger wrappers, cardboard fry containers, and a soggy paper bag that once held it all (though likely only at the outset of the meal). There were also a couple of empty cans of Yerbe Mate in amongst the other crap.

The reason for telling you this is that it occurred to me in a way it hadn’t before just what a terrible mess a single person can make, which, not surprisingly, led me to think about you. Obviously some messes left by some people are more manageable, more correctable, than the messes left by other people and as I picked up the random stranger’s mess I wished that your messes fell into the former category. They so patently don’t that it’s hard to imagine ever cleaning them all up, especially since messes have a contagion quality that encourage others to either add to them or to go for it by dumping shit somewhere else.

As Joe Scarborough (WP) opined this morning, most of us failed to appreciate your appeal to the masses and how it would allow you to wreck havoc on democratic norms and commonsense self-preservation guardrails. Obviously your BFF Vladimir, select other anti-democracy leaders, and Mitch McConnell all recognized your utility early on, but most of us didn’t take you seriously; we thought you were too much of a mess yourself to be able to get any traction. But we were wrong – we underestimated the appeal of being able to wantonly throw one’s trash in someone else’s yard, of being able to piss in someone else’s well, and of having a POTUS ready and willing to lead an angry band of mess-makers.

May we be safe from cynical mess-makers.
May we be willing to clean up after them (for our own sakes).
May we establish healthy limits to safeguard democracy from would-be despots.
May we not make peace with the nightmare that is you.

Tracy Simpson

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