Things That Irk Me

images There are many things that irk me.

People putting their feet up on furniture, smokers, and those yakking on their phones in public.

Caregivers Tweeting rather than giving care, along with dog walkers who sit instead of walk.

Our prevailing tactless, Teflon coated medical community who’d prefer a round of golf over their Hippocratic Oath.

Abandoned animals, wives who ignore their husbands, and the big kahuna of them all, littering.

You’ll often see me early in the morning picking up cans and potato chip bags, candy wrappers and various parts of the newspaper. I just can’t help myself. I used to cause scenes whenever I saw someone litter, but now let them see me pick it up, hoping it will embarrass them enough to think the next time. And I learned this gentle tactic from a woman I knew named, Beth Sutherland Nelson.

I wrote OUCH back in 2011 to remember her. It’s one of my favorite essays, not because I wrote it, but because of her…

When I was 18, I shared a beach house with a bunch of wonderful people in Lordship, Connecticut. There was one other woman living there by the name of Beth.

Beth eventually married Mickey and they had three kids, her youngest being a girl. She taught Amy who was 3, anytime she saw someone litter to say OUCH, on behalf of the earth. Witnessing this, if you were lucky enough, melted your heart. This wee creature stunning people into picking up what they carelessly threw away.

Beth died of breast cancer fifteen years ago, but her sweet, gentle parenting still resonates.

I live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and the conspicuous consumption, especially where children are concerned, is off the charts. Yesterday I met a 3 year-old with his own iPhone so he could call his grandparents in Miami. It made me a little sad not to mention envious since he was also wearing Gucci loafers the size of Twinkies.

Children aren’t really children anymore. They’re just short adults forced to answer to taller ones. I have nothing against smart Upper East Side kids fortunate enough to attend the best schools, learning things that make my head spin. I only wish they could still be kids a little while longer.

The biggest parental responsibility that seems absent, is good old-fashioned common courtesy.

Today when I saw a five year-old toss his empty M&M’s bag on the sidewalk, I watched the parents who saw it too, ignoring it as if littering was perfectly acceptable.

Parents should be required to take a test. You can’t man anything even remotely dangerous without a license, so should raising kids be any different?

No, I didn’t lecture nor show pique oddly enough, but when passing them, I did pick it up and say, OUCH, on behalf of the earth.

God bless you Beth, wherever you are.   images-1


About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Thanks.
This entry was posted in animals, Family, History, Home, humor, kids, Love, parents, words and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

70 Responses to Things That Irk Me

  1. robprice59 says:

    Ouch indeed! It will all have to be paid for. There really isn’t anywhere else to go so, when we’ve destroyed this planet, we are all well and truly fucked.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorryless says:


    Amen. Sister.
    Imma start a list of the things that irk me as well. I should be done with it by the fall . . .
    Littering would be on the list. In all its sinister forms. From Styrofoam cups in a park, to Government approved contaminated water to Twitter twits whose profane use of the site is for the birds (pun intended).
    I love the OUCH method. In this age of shaming behind a computer screen, OUCH is a hands on approach that may actually work!


  3. skinnyuz2b says:

    I subbed at a middle school last week where a fifth grader spent an entire period mentioning his Gucci socks. Drove me nuts as he paraded his parent’s wealth.
    As for littering, each spring we used to take our four kids around the block (a rural block is a large animal) to pick up the litter. There were never tons, but we usually managed to fill a large garbage bag. We did this until they moved out.
    The sheer ignorance of those parents toward their child’s public littering really gets my dander up.I applaud your method of silent yet visually scolding the litterers. Reminds me of something MLK might have employed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. aFrankAngle says:

    Many years ago (and based on prices at the time), he would commonly say … It doesn’t cost that much more to go first class …. but he actually applied it to behaviors … it’s not that much more effort to carry it to the trashcan. Oh the behaviors we can think of with that mantra.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dale says:

    We have many of the same irritations, Susannah.
    I have to say I just don’t understand how people are STILL using the Earth as a big garbage can. It would never even occur to me to throw a wrapper on the ground. Or allow my boys to.
    And you’re right. Children don’t have time too be children. Or learn coping skills on the
    playground… but that’s a whole ‘mother discussion!
    OUCH is a good one… going to try it myself…


  6. Eilene Lyon says:

    As I sit here reading with my feet on the coffee table (hey, it was made for feet!), I cringed at the over-privileged child and careless littering. I like Beth’s approach – both to littering and child-rearing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. That sounds like a good practice. I do understand this one. I don’t recycle trash or separate it much, but I try hard to make certain my trash goes in the bin. I, honestly, don’t see a lot of littering around here, but I know it happens. My children were taught to toss. My daughter took it to heart and has like 4 separate containers for trash and has little baggies for their dogs’ doo.


  8. I loved Beth’s approach to littering.

    People in our rural neighborhood toss things in ditches. It makes my blood boil to see the mess. I have an idea that might be fun. There is a stretch of road above a deep ravine that gets most of the litter. I wish I could clean it all up, and then I’d stretch a garbage bag on a large hoop and attach it to a tree. Shawn would probably paint a sign for it, inviting litterers to toss their mess in the hoop. Who could resist such a target? …. Well, no, I don’t really want to know.


  9. I’m going to copy your friend Beth. Thanks for the idea. Peace

    Liked by 1 person

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