Part of what motivates me to get out of bed at 4 a.m. every morning and climb on my bike is the beauty I know I’m going to see.
Warren County is as pretty as any place in the world and that’s especially true at sunrise. I see the first signs of light off to the east as I’m coasting down Old Shelbyville Road. I usually get a pretty good idea of how spectacular the sunrise is going to be by the time I turn onto Garfield from Post Road.
It’s not all beautiful, though. People throw litter on every street I ride. When I was a kid, most of the litter you saw was beer cans and beer bottles. Soft drink bottles were returnable back then so we’d pick those up pretty quickly and head to the little store to cash them in.
Now most of the litter I see is fast food bags and wrappers. I can never figure out why people don’t just throw them in their garbage can when they get home.
It makes me wonder if they’re sneaking around gobbling down burgers and fries and throwing away the evidence so their husbands or wives won’t know they’ve been cheating on their diets. I think it’s time to bring back the “Tennessee Trash” ad campaign. The crying Indian, too.
I came across the most disturbing piece of litter I’ve seen about six weeks ago. I had just turned right onto Sunset off of Garfield when my peripheral vision picked up a flash of orange in the grass by the road. I turned my bike around to see if it was what I thought it was. I was really hoping it wasn’t but it was.
A syringe. Just up the hill from the Civic Center and the swimming pool where kids would be in a few hours. Not 100 yards from the field where I played junior league baseball. I stood there looking at it for a couple of minutes and wondering what in the world I was going to do about it.
I rode off on my usual route and decided to call the police when I got back home.
An hour later my ride brought me back to that same area and I saw a sheriff’s deputy at the stop sign on Garfield and Sunset. I flagged him down and told him about the syringe and asked him to follow me to it. He was nice enough to oblige so I rode over to the syringe and pointed at it, still in amazement.
The deputy put on surgical gloves and picked it up. The plunger was pulled back and it was loaded with a shot of something. He put it in a bag and thanked me for finding it.
I guess I’m glad I did but I also kind of wish I didn’t because it bothers me every day.
Standard reporter Chris Simones can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.