So yesterday morning- clear, warm, blue- I was running (in the car) fast as I could to Publix and to pick up an eyeglass prescription, before the Spring Break traffic became impassable. I was approaching the Joan Avenue/North Lagoon intersection, and I spy a lady picking up garbage! A nice looking lady, and a Suburban parked on the shoulder. In other words; I guessed she wasn't doing community service- no stripes, no deputies. I couldn't believe my eyes. I had to turn my nosey tail around investigate!
One less piece of plastic to choke this egret, here on Grand Lagoon
I enquired as to whether she was the owner of the lot, which I suspected, and introduced myself and was treated to the most encouraging tale! It is NOT her lot. Her name is Missy Thomas and she does this regularly. Usually with her teenage twins. They dispose of the garbage and recycle the aluminum cans, of which there are many during Spring Break; more than you can even imagine. It is foolish to make judgements in this wrecked economy, but I did not apprise her to need the money for food. She said she wanted her children to learn a work ethic.
She regaled me with tales of the folks she met while picking up trash; I knew there were enterprising folks who collected the cans on the beach; I never even pick those up myself, because I know someone will be there soon to get them. She's found $20.s, dollars, Toms shoes, you name it.
But mostly she's making the place look much better, and saving a dolphin or two.
I went to deposit some of the straws and cellophanes I found while we were talking into the dumpster.
A lady came out of a building and said, "What group are you with? I want to thank you so much! My son usually comes in and does this [this is taking place on a Saturday morning] but he didn't come in with me." I told her the improbable tale and was delighted to find myself talking to Lenora Wiser, the manager of one of my favorite signs ever, Sugar Beach Condos. She was a delight. (The link does not include the sign, much to my chagrin.) It was one of my inspirations as I began work on the forthcoming "Panama City Beach: Tales from the World's Most Beautiful Beaches" and alas- I did not get any good pics in the book, either. Will try to do something upcoming on the goofy Facebook page, Panama City Beach: Creature from the Grand Lagoon.
A few straws were kept out of the lagoon, and I made two friends. Who besides a Southsider would stop on the side of the road and pick up trash? Exactly! Another southsider! Mrs Thomas's husband is (fortunately!) retired from Delta, and she is still a Delta employee! She has lived with us in Riverdale, Fayetteville, and now they are here! She commutes!