I first saw this late one night, and my brain refused to accept it. I was just driving into work for a planned hardware upgrade, not expecting earth-shattering kabooms. The next morning I captured the image above, where a truck had barely beat me to the first spot at the red light.
It just couldn’t be. The light turned green and I followed the truck toward the intersection.
Then I saw this:
My mind rested for a moment and I was able to concentrate on work the rest of the day. I figured that now, with the board very nearly in the way of traffic, the cups would draw more attention (see links to all backstory posts, including video, here).
Since then, events have spiraled out of my control. My nearly real-time account of that will have to wait a few paragraphs.
Blue Straw, as it has affectionately come to be called, was there first, at least as long ago as June 2006. Red Straw came along in March 2007 and, although a newcomer, has survived many a deluge with no signs of budging.
Some followers of this story have made Star Wars references, calling Blue Straw the plucky Jedi, and Red Straw the evil Sith. Blue light saber vs. red light saber — but I’m sure everyone got that, right?
When will the cups lose their hold if left alone? Silt has come and gone. Workers in nearby buildings have been fired and hired. Some of the cars that have passed undoubtedly have gone on to the great junkyard in the sky. Heck, I’ve had jobs I didn’t keep that long.
By now, I know other motorists have noticed my aiming the camera toward this gutter. Surely those who followed me after the light turned green took a look for themselves. Is anyone else keeping tabs on these seemingly immovable cups?
That was the end of this post until I realized I had reached a crossroads. When I was a journalist, I often lamented that I was tired of just writing about what other people did, and wanted to be the one to actually do for a change. Now I had to make up my mind. Let the cups eventually disappear by means unknown to me, or become a participant.
I decided to take action, but what I wanted to do depended on other people. So, rather than just go grab the cups on my next lunch hour, I had to enlist help.
I’m afraid I started a chain of events that I’m powerless to stop.
First, I sent e-mail to the catch-all address on the City’s web site. I figured I would inform them what’s happening, and tried to do so without seeming like a crazy person.
I drive to work in (city name redacted for this blog post) every weekday.
For the past year, I’ve noticed a large cup lodged in a storm drain in (redacted). I’ve even written a series of blog posts about it, including pictures and video. Since I first noticed it in June of 2006, another cup joined it (March 2007). I’m a bit of an amateur photographer and filmmaker, so this has been a lot of fun for me. My readers have enjoyed it, as well. There is talk of having t-shirts made.
I think it’s time for me to remove the cups and end this whole thing. I don’t want to wait it out, as much as I’d like to, because then the cups would end up as litter in the system, and nobody wants that. In addition, I would like to retain the cups, as they have taken on a strange sentimental meaning for me.
What I’d like to do is have someone from City of (redacted) (or whoever is responsible) remove the manhole cover above this storm drain and let me take some pictures and/or video by lowering my cameras down into it and aiming them out the storm drain. This would give me and my readers a great new angle before I remove the cups.
Can someone there help me with this project?
Here’s the link to my page about the cups:
Do you think that says, “crazy person?”
After sending the above, I called the City. The nice lady routed me to a man in the Streets Department (but not a “man in the streets” Department, which is completely different). I’ll call him Rufus.
“My name is Mark Williams and I’ve noticed a cup stuck in a storm drain for at least a year. There’s another one beside it that’s been there since March. I thought about pulling them out myself, but they’re at the end of a busy offramp and it could be dangerous.”
“You say it’s been there for a year?”
“Do you have any pictures you could e-mail me?”
I’m a straight man, but at this point I could have kissed Rufus right through the phone. You mean you want to see my pictures?
“I have quite a few, actually,” I said.
As sanely as possible, I recapped the story.
As politely as possible, Rufus gave me his e-mail address and again requested that I send the pictures and my phone number along to him. I cobbled together the pics I had and clicked “Send.”
The following morning, I received an e-mail from Rufus.
Mark, I am going to forward all your emails to Mr. Cuthbert at the area office of TXDOT in (redacted). Since you are requesting access to their inlet I decided it was best for them to handle it.
Thanks for your email, I went to the ‘blog’ and read some of the posts, made for an interesting start to the morning.
I tried to reach this “Mr. Cuthbert” (made-up name), and the nice lady who answered explained he’s out until late afternoon. When I was dealing with a local city guy, familiar territory thanks to my former job at the City of Bentonville, I felt fairly comfortable that I could end up with the cups.
Now that it’s been sent to the state level, I’m feeling a little more disconnected. I had to leave him a voicemail.
After work, the cups and the board still were there. I hope to hear something soon.
To see the end of the cups’ first chapter (with video), click here.
This just in!
Reader and fellow blogger Moksha Gren posts his own tribute to Blue Straw.