Friday, 9 November 2007

Passive Aggressive Littering

You know how you read something and start punching the air "yes, yes, yes", not so much because of a new insight but because you suddenly realise someone else has the same frustrations as yourself? For me, this occurred when I read, a site dedicated to notes, signs and e-mails written in the passive aggressive style, usually about annoyances or asking people to stop doing things.

The one about cat fur posted in the letterbox hits home:

“okay, so i’m not sure if i’m in the wrong on this one,” says melanie from sydney. “i have a long haired cat who sheds a lot, so i just used to pick up the bits of fur and throw them out the window. i’m on the third floor and look out over the street, so i didn’t think it would upset anyone. but then i found this clump of cat fur in my Mailbox.”

This story is great on so many levels. There's the obsessive collection of a few hairs each day over weeks. The voyeurism of waiting for the falling fluff. The implied threat with shades of Fatal Attraction and bunny boiling.

For devotees of the obsessive genre, they also point out other sites dedicated to singular abuses of the word literally, apostrophes and quotation marks, to which I would add the work of Lynne Truss.

This week my local council sent a letter to each flat (must be important, normally they just post up a single copy on the notice board). Subject: LITTERING.

We have received feedback that some residents are throwing CIGARETTE BUTTS, UNWANTED FOOD, TISSUE PAPERS, etc out from their windows. Some of them are also littering the common corridors, staircases and open spaces.

Town Council takes a serious view of their irresponsible act and would like to appeal to all residents to immediately stop littering at the common areas, especially throwing litter out from the windows.

We wish to remind you that it is an offence under the town council by-law (COMMON PROPERTY AND OPEN SPACE) to litter the common areas.

I could rat out the guy opposite with the purple windows who smokes by leaning out of the window then flicking the butt down onto the grass, or the people above me who throw tissues out, but they didn't mention the Q-Tips. One narrowly missed me as I was walking in front of some flats a little while back and there was one in the lift the other day. What do you do with a Q-Tip in a lift? I used to use them to clean the heads of cassette players with denatured alcohol, and now I clear my ears with them, but neither activity has ever occurred in a lift. I feel a letter coming on...