The old high school football stadium, while not exactly abandoned, had fallen into considerable disrepair since the construction of its replacement actually situated on the school grounds a couple of miles away. The bleachers where the home crowd had sat and cheered on its local heroes for years were slowly rotting away from the assault of both rain and sun. Directly across the football field, which hadn't been cut in ages, the bleachers constructed for those supporting the visiting team were in a worse condition. Rust was spreading like a contagion along the steel supports and if someone listened carefully when the wind blew you could actually hear the structure groaning from the strain. But the old facility still had its uses even as time and weather were in the middle of breaking it back down to its basic elements.
Running the outer edge of the football field was a quarter mile circular track that many people in the area had begun using after the stadium was decommissioned and county and school officials no longer locked the gates to the chain link fence surrounding the property. This allowed people from the early hours of the morning to well after sunset to casually walk or run the track for their personal health.
There was a bad side to this continued use though, because the school and county no longer emptied the trash receptacles on a regular basis most were literally overflowing. Things were made worse by the fact that a few careless people didn't even bother to throw their trash in one of the few cans that still had space but just discarded their plastic bottles, soda cans, and assorted food containers wherever they saw fit making the area look even worse. This is where the erstwhile hero of the story enters the scene.
The hero of this story started walking the track several months ago after his trusty and nearby gym was suddenly closed for the stated reason that the eighty-four year old owner of the franchise decided to shed himself of burdensome and time consuming investments. In truth, the hero believes that since the property the gym was built on is equal in size to a lower middle-class subdivision right next it that the building will eventually be torn down and replaced with an identical set of those cheap houses.
Whatever the case, since the hero does not like and in turn is not liked by the soulless, pod people he lives around he eventually got the bright idea to walk the track to get exercise he so missed after his gym closed. The hero quickly found that walking the track was the best idea he had in a long times. Not only was the circular track exactly a quarter mile after doing one lap, since he walked in the early morning he sound the relative solitude refreshing.
The one problem the hero had with the track was the trash scattered all about. During the times he would walk the track, usually on the weekends, he would think how sorry it was that people could not at least take their trash back home and properly dispose of it. He also would occasionally condemn the school and county officials for not coming by to empty the overflowing trash containers and pick up the various bottles, cans, and other garbage people had left on the ground.
Like all good ideas the hero had, they came rarely and slowly but eventually he realized that if there was going to be any improvement in the appearance of the track he so enjoyed walking he was going to have to pick up some of the garbage as he walked. During each lap he would pick up three items and then dump then in one of the trash cans that still had space. His intentions were to do just a little but being a little compulsive he spotted some more trash after each lap.
Several times the hero got frustrated with himself when he said, “No more, I'm not the garbage man for these stupid, littering rednecks.” But still he continued to pick up items while listening to the music blasting from his ear buds that was connected to his small media player.
The hero did admit to himself he was getting some internal satisfaction by doing picking up the trash. He did make sure to occasionally check his surroundings, since he didn't want anyone to see him doing the self-appointed civic cleanup. See, such civic mindedness might just be confused with nasty socialism.
After about forty-five minutes or so, the area adjacent to the track was looking a lot better. In fact the hero had gotten so into the impromptu trash pickup that he had long since abandoned the idea of stopping. That was when the universe decided to pay him back for his good deed.
The hero was rounding one end of the track when he spotted two round objects in the grass on the outside edge. The overgrown grass was making it difficult to identify the items but with the music blasting in his ears from his headphones that were connected to his MP3 player, and with his mind on really on other subjects he casually swooped down and grabbed the first object with intentions of picking up the other one on the next lap.
Once the object was in the hero's hand, the texture of the material that made it up immediately identified it for him. “Oh damn, a used baby diaper!” He exclaimed to an uncaring universe. In fact with his mind preoccupied the hero had used just a wee too much hand pressure on the diaper with the result being a brown, semi-liquid substance oozing out of the roughly spherical item. Talk about ruining a peaceful state of mind.
Whether this was the universe punishing the hero for his self-appointed good deed is unknown and really doesn't matter. The hero was able to find a few discarded socks and water bottles to wash his soiled hand. It did end the hero's walk and will almost certainly curb his enthusiasm for picking up trash.