Give a hoot! Don't pollute! Unless, that is, you're driving through East Cleveland and ...

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Back in the day, there was an all encompassing owl named Woodsy who interrupted Transformer cartoons to provide a serious message: “Give a hoot! Don’t pollute!” The short spots provided children with the important lesson that putting wrappers and soda cans in the trash bins were good for the world. And before it got too vomity, Optimus Prime would come back on the screen and fire his laser at a Decepticon. The 1980s were great time to grow up. But those advertisements made it seem like one should pick up everything they see. ... Woodsy never explained what one should do when faced with the prospect of living near the hamlet of East Cleveland. The owl didn’t say that sometimes, other adults open up their passenger side doors while driving 40 miles per hour, pull hypodermic needles out of their legs, and toss them onto the street. That’s exactly what happened on Wade Park Avenue two nights ago. Normally, the opening of a passenger side door means that the passenger is sick and about to hurl, which Woodsy would surely understand. But what’s with the blatant tossing of a heroine stick? It bounced on the pavement and twirled and pirouetted like Dorothy Hamill circa ’76 before finally coming to rest near the sidewalk. And the car, a maroon Buick sedan with temporary plates, kept right on rolling. They didn’t give a hoot. Now the community is left with one more needle on the street waiting to pierce through a daffodil-colored flip-flop. While one can bet that plenty of concerned citizens want it removed, picking up a used needle is going far and beyond the call of duty. This leaves us at a standstill. Be a good citizen and risk disease, or pretend it never happened and live with guilt? Listen, Woodsy, we give a hoot. But what the hell are we supposed to do? – Bradley Campbell

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