What not to do in Public
Iread the 19th September article, ‘Know your Laws’, about the requirements for applying for a permit to march. Once any marchers are legally assembled, I wonder how many could commit possible breaches of the law while on the route? I have in mind two particular aspects: dropping of litter and peeing in public.
I hope that the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force would correct me if I am wrong but are these two bad habits not still outlawed? Why do so many Lucians persist in disposing of garbage other than in purpose-built receptacles? Why do so many men stop at the side of the road or next to a building, expose their penis and urinate without any regard to other people nearby? Both create mess and smell. Both demonstrate on the part of the offender a flagrant disrespect for fellow citizens and for the beauty of our island.
When did anyone last see a tourist drop litter? I know that many visitors struggle to find a trash can while exploring our island but the “foreign” way is to take one’s garbage home (or back to the hotel) and dispose of it properly. Just look at the difference between locals and ex-pats after a beach party: the former leave packaging and bottles while the latter leave only footprints and left-over food (but no bones!) for stray dogs.
Recently I was walking along the highway, returning home from the supermarket. A man was in front of me, sipping juice from a carton that I had seen him purchase in the store. When he had finished his drink, he tossed the carton aside. I called out to get his attention and asked him why he had thrown his rubbish onto the ground. He immediately apologised, bent down and picked up the carton, and then gave me an explanation that amazed me: “Sorry,” he declared, “I now live in Germany and of course I would not do that there but when I am back home in Saint Lucia . . .” He did not complete the sentence but was obviously suggesting that it is acceptable to drop litter here. Why did he think that? Is it because litter laws are no longer enforced? Is it because he saw so many locals throwing garbage into the street and along the roadside without being challenged and without even feeling guilty?
Wasn’t there a time, decades ago, when those who were witnessed by a police officer to drop litter were arrested, taken before the courts and fined? And were their identities not published in the newspapers of the era? Name and shame them! It seemed to be an effective deterrent.
I have never seen a fullgrown woman urinate in public here; desperate children, yes, but not on a regular basis. Of course women can be caught short but, unlike some men in the same circumstance, we are more inclined to respect ourselves and others, and any female whose bladder is fit to burst would hide herself from plain view. Men, why do so many of you not care? I won’t accuse you of brazenly flaunting the act but turning your back to passing pedestrians, drivers and passengers, or peeing directly opposite a person’s house when they are on their balcony, does not constitute an effort to hide yourself. Do you have no shame?
The public urination problem is not confined to Saint Lucia; it happens all over the world although I suspect that it is rare in Singapore where society frowns upon such indecency and where the risk of arrest and a fine is high. I admire a solution that has proven successful in Hamburg, Germany and that has been introduced in San Francisco: a urine-resistant paint has been applied to walls commonly targeted by men who pee in public. The paint has a built-in weapon against those who “point and shoot”: it creates a surface that violently repels all water-based and some oilbased liquids. The result is that liquids splash back so that the man ends up with his own urine bouncing back onto his pants and legs. Sweet justice! That should stop any man peeing against that wall again. Alas, I fear that it will not completely solve the problem of public urination as some perpetrators will simply find elsewhere to relieve themselves.
The paint solution is not appropriate for Saint Lucia given that most men pee into grass or bush. What all transgressors need is education and instruction that this is not the correct way to conduct oneself in public. Personally, I favour creating folklore and telling little boys that if they ever expose their ‘cockolock’ outside the home or bathroom, ‘la jablesse’ will cut it off. It may even work on grown men with small minds.
Why do so many Lucian men do this in public?