FF – Doing The Right Thing

Photo credit © Starsinclayjars

Doing The Right Thing

“They haven’t cut the straps.” Luke kicks disapprovingly at the third discarded mask we’ve seen in the one mile walk to school.

“Huh?” I’m not really listening. I’m wondering what we’re going to do on Monday. The third strike day of his first ‘normal’ school year since Grade 1.

“Animals can get tangled in them and die.”

“In the discarded mask?”

“Yes. It’s serious, Mom.”

One of us is missing the point. “You want the careless idiots who drop their mask on the side of the road to carefully cut the straps first?”

“It’s environmentally caring.”

“Ah, environmentally caring littering.”


Today’s photo put me in mind of a song from my childhood, The Bedstead Men, by comedy duo Flanders and Swann. You can enjoy it on the link below (2:25 for the relevant verse). It occurred to me that 80 years on, the specific items listed in the final chorus would have changed considerably, and in the last few years, one piece of litter has taken over from the prophylactic as the most ubiquitous: the single-use mask.

I toyed with the idea of amending the lyrics for our times, but at 352 words, it’s a little over the limit and most of them wouldn’t change. My own Luke recently took on board an important lesson about mask disposal, and my own Matty is currently sprawled on the couch with ‘flu … likely to recover just in time to miss school for yet another strike.

And so today’s snippet was born. If you enjoy stories featuring the fictional Luke and Matty, you can find more of them here.



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28 responses to “FF – Doing The Right Thing

  1. michael1148humphris

    Them masks get everywhere, we have doggie bags, we need mask disposal bags.

  2. Well, there are your common careless litterers and then you have your caring litterers. Of course, if you need run into the house to find something to cut it with, I’m not sure why you need to go back out and throw it on the street, but then, I guess that’s why they are uncommon caring litterers. But then, I guess it is better than, after running inside, cutting the mask, grabbing the brass bed and dragging it you, and on the river bank leaving a shoe.

  3. Well, I guess if you’re going to litter, you might as well do it conscientiously. 🙂 Great story. I like his mindset.

  4. I like his focus on the outcome of the issue. It’s a bit like clipping the plastic rings on beer packs – a kind of “if you must then would you mind first …. ” Great take.

    • Yes, I took on the plastic rings thing much younger, this is no different. And to be fair, in both cases, the risk to wildlife isn’t massively reduced by being in landfill rather than the local park. Maybe Luke’s right, it’s the snipping that matters.

  5. Dear Jen,

    Litterbugs from generation to generation. The song was fun. Good story.



  6. Yes, don’t throw them in the street in the first place! Topical take.

  7. A wonderfully personal take on the prompt pic, Jen. Oxymoronic environmentally conscious litterbugs are an accident of nature, for sure. Admittedly, I’m now pondering the mask I saw hanging from a tree. Why? 🙂

    • Oh god, the tree-hangers! Dog poo bags and masks. Are they planning to come back later? Is it marking territory? Do they think that’s less messy?

      • Seen the poo bags forgotten near benches and far fewer discarded masks these days. I presume the masks were dropped accidentally and the wind did the rest. I’m less sure about the poo bags. 🙂

  8. I love the way Luke’s mind is working. It’s awful how many masks you find discarded on the ground now-a-days. Nice slice of life!

  9. Later, later everywhere
    and not a bin in sight.
    That seems to be the excuse. I like how you show the illogical misrepresentation of the problem.

  10. It’s sadly true. I loved the punchline, “Ah, environmentally caring littering.”

  11. it starts at home. if kids are taught to do the right thing, they’ll do the right thing.

  12. I’ve noticed them often in grocery store parking lots. What a mess! Loved the “environmentally caring littering.”

  13. Oh the mask littering used to drive me mad! Glad it’s calmed down now! Excellent story, reminds me of conversations with my kids!

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