Saturday afternoon: It was kind of soggy out in the park so there were not as many picnic groups. Although, the weather ended up being nicer than expected and the smart picnickers brought a tarp to cover the ground. – Lydia
Sunday morning at 7:45 a.m. Not a seagull or maintenance worker in sight. Either they had already picked up what Saturday had left behind or the Saturday picnickers had managed to haul their trash to the perimeter, which was neat, clean and devoid of trash. The park looked like a verdant swath of almost clean green. Marring this: A lot of cigarette butts. – Lydia
Sunday afternoon, 4-7 p.m. Contrary to popular belief, I’m pretty sure most people who come to the park have the basic principle down – I didn’t manage to catch a single person in the act of carelessly leaving their trash behind. Even the group of guys standing around in a sea of empty PBR cans stuffed them in bags and carried them away. Recyclers passing through helped keep the mess in check. I also got the sense that what was left often remained because people decided it wasn’t theirs. Maybe it really wasn’t – one flattened beer carton lay in the middle of a walkway for hours, and people dutifully laden with trash bags passed right by it. Things not belonging to people are apparently invisible.
An empty plastic gallon container rolled around in the middle of another walkway. I got so tired of seeing that stupid thing I just took it myself, so I can now tell you with confidence that nothing horrible will happen to you if you grab other people’s trash. Take Michael the coconut rum guy. He was doing it all day, rolling around his cooler and picking up the empty coconuts all his customers “forgot” about. He told me he was taking his car straight to the dump after finishing up for the day to get rid of all the stuff he picked up. Because when customers leave the refuse remaining of what they bought from him lying around, guess who gets flak? That’s right, the guy who now spends half his day actually picking it up.
On the way down to the garbage bin in line of sight of the water carton, I also picked up a few wrappers blowing in the breeze, several empty bottles, corks, and more. I also grabbed a plastic bag already full of trash and, separately, a baggie of dog poop. So we’ve got the ‘pack it’ part down. Let’s try for the ‘out’ too next time, yeah?
Adding to the “not mine” factor was the “too far away” factor. I overheard at least one conversation about how there are no trash cans in the park and observed a few eye rolls about this. The one trash can that is inside the park is on the playground, and it was – of course – full. Nonetheless, complain about it all you want, then take your trash to the cans all along 20th and Dolores streets. While the ones at intersections were more than full, the ones mid-street certainly had room.
Too many people seemed to decide that because there should be a trashcan by the restroom or by a tree, they were simply going to leave their trash in that location. Maybe there is a notion that on the ground with other trash is better than on the ground scattered around. Or maybe it’s a form of protest? Unfortunately, a near miss is still a miss. And leaving your empties lined up neatly along the back of the washbasin in the bathroom, no matter how strongly you believe the bathroom should have a trash can, does not make it a trash can. Trust me on this one.
Monday morning at 7:10 a.m. A crew of four people from SF Rec and Park were already out cleaning up, but they would soon be finished. As one of them said, the park was pretty clean this morning. A few parties ghosted on their picnics and the seagulls were eating away, but all in all, not the piggish mess of last weekend.
So, picnickers get a B for Saturday and a C – for Sunday, although to be fair we will have to get out there before the cleaning crews arrive. This is called giving all a benefit of the doubt.
You always know there is trash when you hear the seagulls.