Perfect Public Practice

 

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Having spent a considerable amount of time on the London Underground in recent weeks, it has occurred to me simply how dreadfully careless and messy everyone can be. *Pause and prepare for a slap on the wrist for Britain*

I don’t presume to know how these people act at home, indeed perhaps they appreciate strewn litter and discarded free papers, and hope to replicate such comforts for the rest of the poor world. Highly likely, I’m sure. But the fact of the matter is people are quite happy to leave a mess, even in facilities they frequently use. A timeless complaint, worn old by countless parents throughout the ages, I’m aware.

Such behaviour did get me to thinking however. What causes this behaviour? Perhaps it isn’t simply a lack of manners, or some vengeful spite against the local cleaner, but draws more from a distanced mentality. In an instant, one’s mess can be blissfully disregarded as someone else’s problem, a faceless entity ready to slave away to their careless whims. I’ve even heard people claim they are merely ‘giving them something to do’.

5413111-depressed-maid-sitting-in-her-bucket-and-holding-her-mop-with-a-sad-expression-on-her-face-full-body-stock-photoYes, there are people who are actually paid to clean up our mess; a publicly endorsed maid to make each of us average paupers feel particularly important for a brief moment, as we exact our spiteful control over their futures. Whether it’s public toilets, a train, bins, a park – it’s someone else’s problem to deal with. What utter nonsense.

As someone who has worked waiting on others, I can confirm that such behaviour is the bane of the working day. It’s not even due to the added workload (although this doesn’t help), it’s the knowledge that someone else has committed such a careless act, fully aware it will cause a problem for someone else later on. I’ve returned to free coffee stations I’ve meticulously arranged for customers, to find them covered in opened sugar packets, half drunk or simply untouched drinks, and conspicuous stains in impressive to reach places. You wouldn’t do this to yourself, in your own home, so why do it elsewhere?

Now I appreciate this appears somewhat scolding, an open letter from society’s exasperated parent begging we all finally leave the barn we were all evidently born in, but I’m merely trying to shed light on an act almost all of us are guilty of. It takes little to place rubbish in a bin, to be careful when using public facilities, even to brighten a workers day with a smile and a polite hello. We’re all human, after all.

 

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