What the h? Give a Hoot Hoot

Posted on 09. Feb, 2009 by in Lifestyle

by Derek Waters

I’m not one to advertise smoking, or littering. However I will advertise to not throw your cigarettes out the window in Los Angeles.

I’m not proud to say I’ve been a smoker for 10 years. I’m not proud to say I’ve thrown my fair share of cigs out the window. I should also say that my one fear of smoking (besides the C word) is starting a fire. If you know me you know that I make sure my cig is out wherever I put it. Alright enough of this
kind of talk.


I’m just driving home – it’s a beautiful cool summer night and I’m listening to Pearl Jam, and singing along. I just happen to be smoking too. (Yeah, I can do all this at once…deal with it.) All of sudden I get pulled over.


You know why I pulled you over?


No Officer, I don’t.


I pulled you over cause you threw that lit cigarette out the window.


Oh, I’m sorry.


Long story short….he gave me a ticket for $381.00 plus eight hours of cleaning up trash. I LOVE LA!


Oh, and it was also cold. Rains in L.A. maybe five times a year. I thought it was a nice wink from God that this would be one of the five times it was gonna rain.

I show up for my community service work at 7 AM. I get assigned to clean up trash on Vermont and Melrose to work my way up to Vermont and Hollywood…for eight hours. It’s me and three others. These three others choose to not speak any English to me..only Spanish. I took Spanish for four long years in high school and I still couldn’t understand anything they were saying.


We start the day in a truck. All the words spoken are Spanish. No words are said to me in English or Spanish. I’m in a truck with the cleaning service shirt on, and no idea where we’re headed. The truck stops and I find myself following the three into a coffee shop. They get coffee, and find a both that only fits three people. I get my cup and sit by myself guessing what they are talking about, how long we are gonna be there, where we are going, and if it’s weird to go outside for a cigarette. Fifteeen minutes later I’m in the rain holding a huge dust pan and a METAL RAKE. The sound of a metal rake hitting the sidewalk is much like nails down a chalkboard to me. I’m not going to tell you the sick details of what I found and had to pick up, but I will say changing trash bags and poking holes so as to push the water out…Well, I’ve seen some things I never wanna see again. Don’t forget eight hours of this.


I’m at a Mexican restaurant sitting in a both that fit four! All four of us hanging out…still no word of English..except for one moment.

Worker #1

Did you wanna go to Jack In The Box?


No, this is fine.

The rest of the lunch was Spanish words, soundtracked by Ranchero music in the background. I just sat and drank another cup of coffee and thought about how amazing and depressing this was. After lunch we went back to work and more thoughts in my head were filled with how I will never throw or allow someone to throw a cigarette out the window.

The reason for this article is that this law isn’t announced loudly enough. You need to know this law to keep the city clean, and to know that nobody should have to do so many depressing things and pay a fine for a law that they weren’t aware of. Just the other day my dad asked me….


Well, son did you learn your lesson.


I don’t think I had a choice.

(Derek says as he’s driving putting his cigarette in a empty water bottle.)

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