It was a beautiful cool night, the setting for an organized bicycle ride, courtesy of INDYCOG and Mayor Greg Ballard, that went from Sun King Brewery to Victory Field for the opening night of the Indianapolis Indians season.
The Indians won in the bottom of the ninth. After, we set up camp on the patio of the Chatterbox and as riders traveled up and down Mass Ave, we’d call out and they’d join us. We became a web of friendliness that caught and trapped all bicyclers.
As you might imagine, over the course of the night, a few drinks were consumed, but by the time I got on my bike and wheeled away from the Chatterbox with my friends, I was steady enough to point and pedal.
Each of my bicycling friends got to the turns to their homes before me, so I was alone for the last mile or so, rolling through my neighborhood. It was about 2 a.m.; the streets were very quiet.
And then I saw him: a man, standing in a parking lot, partially obscured by bushes. I slowed and watched as he bent over, reaching down, something in his hand.
It was a plastic bag.
I realized he was picking up his dog’s poop; the dog was also now visible to me, standing by the parking lot.
This is the vision that nearly knocked me off my bike, because I was pretty stunned to think that in the middle of the night, with surely no one watching, this man was still willing to clean up after his dog.
I don’t know who started this “clean up after your dog” movement, but it’s pretty amazing when you think about it. For ever, people have just let their dogs go, with no compunction of cleaning up. Yet something has changed in human behavior over the past decade or more, and people now are rarely seen allowing their dogs to poop with abandon.
Likely, the movement was comprised of a bunch of people, and then some communities in collective decision-making, that thought this up.
Constantly stepping in poo had to be a prime motivator.
I know what you’re thinking. There’s an awful lot of plastic created — then tossed away — to take care of that poop. Surely, someone somewhere has done the calculation and determined that it’s either better for the planet to a) let your dogs leave their doings or b) pick it up with a plastic baggie.
But I don’t want to know; because what I want to believe is that this guy cleans up after his dog in the middle of the night because it’s the right thing to do. And that just as easily, we can make transportation, energy and consumer decisions in the same spirit.
I pay attention on a daily basis to what’s happening to the planet’s ecosystem. It’s awful, like a train wreck and I’m unable to turn away. The changes to our climate, to our oceans and to our weather, are happening fast and on an enormous scale, much more so than any current human effort to alter it.
So what does a late night bike ride and a guy picking up his dog’s poop at 2 a.m. mean in the grand scheme of things?
Small stuff makes a difference on a grand scale if enough of us participate.
Do the right thing, the smart thing, the less wasteful thing.