This morning in my pajamas I caught a Toronto firefighter red-handed littering a cigarette butt on my street. I saw him smoking behind the truck -- evidently a non-emergency call across the street, thank goodness.
Watching him through my front window, I couldn't get to him quickly enough to give him a portable ashtray. He dropped the butt on the ground and flattened it with his boot.
I grab my coat and boots and thirty seconds later I'm out the door. His back is to me as he examines some equipment so I call out 'hey' to get his attention. He watches as I stooped down, picked up his butt next to where he's standing and put it in the little extinguishing pouch I give away for butt disposal. It looks like a business card until you open it up and it becomes a butt receptacle.
I said eight words in the exchange. "Here," I said, handing him the pouch containing the evidence. "Use this. It's an ashtray. (pause) No littering."
He looked at me and said "Yes."
So now I'm going to suggest to Toronto Fire Services that firefighters should be reminded not to litter, especially not cigarette butts.
SHEILA WHITE is President and CEO of WORDS Media & Communications Inc and is founder and publisher of this website andThis Week In "Litterland" newsletter.