Regular Life

Regular Life

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on. – Robert Frost

One Cup of Persistence (Pic of the Week)


I first noticed the cup on the right back in June, 2006. It didn’t surprise me that it could hang on during one of the worse droughts north Texas has seen in decades. Since then, however, we’ve seen many heavy rains of significant duration. Gulley-washers, even. No, better make that toad-stranglers.

I’m reminded of a line from Daffy Duck

I’ve heard of stick-to-it-iveness, but how sticky can you get?

Every day on my way to work, I check this storm drain for what has become a steady, albeit confounding presence in my life. When the light at the intersection is green, I catch a glimpse as I scuttle by on my way to the office, just enough to confirm it’s still there. On the rare occasion that I’m first in line at a red light, I get a good look and wonder, How does it hang on like that? Is it by now bottomless, so that water passes through it unchecked to the depths below?

This cup is like Rocky Balboa; it keeps hanging on long past its prime and somehow I always end up cheering for it. Unlike the fictional heavyweight champ, the cup is very real, and it remains stoic, oblivious to the thousands of self-important wanderers of the world that pass by it each day.

Its new buddy, that white cup on the left, has been there at least two weeks. I don’t think it will last as long. How could it? Surely no more than one miracle cup can inhabit one storm drain at a time. Though I’ve seen no research on such a phenomenon, the statistics must be stacked against it.

Should I see it as a testament to the cup’s grit, or as proof that the lamentable Adopt-a-Highway litter control program isn’t quite cutting the muster?

The cigarette butts fall by the wayside. Candy wrappers wriggle past, on their way to an unhappy finish in the swill of humanity.

Meanwhile the cup remains, its blue straw sticking forth like a middle finger saying, “Screw you, world, I’m not going anywhere. Send forth your grimy gray waters. I shall not falter.”

To continue following its story, click here.

17 Responses to One Cup of Persistence (Pic of the Week)

  1. It reminds me of the commercial recently, where a hundred people stand around a paper on the ground, wondering who threw it, discussing it, talking it to death before one person walks by, picks it up and throws it in a trash bin. Then everyone blinks in amazement…. that they could/should have done that.

  2. Dave – I haven’t seen that one, but it sounds funny. This is at a very busy intersection right next to an overpass on I-75, and I’ve never seen any pedestrians crossing. I’ve considered popping out of my car (if I happen to be at a red light either first or second in line) and grabbing it. Now, I kind of want to see how long it will stay there.

  3. “Daddy, Daddy! Why is that man taking a picture of the road?”

    “I don’t know, Son. Just keep moving, and don’t make eye contact.”


    That was a really fun post, Mark. Now I’m cheering for that darned cup! June 2006 you say? Holy crap… If it makes a full year, you should take it home and have it bronzed or something.

    Reminds me of last week at work. Monday morning there were two unopened cans of diet Coke sitting on the sidewalk right outside the door I use. I gave them a “hmmph, wonder whose those are?” and walked in, thinking not much more about them. They were still there when I left for lunch, and still when I went home in the evening. They were there the next morning, and the next. It snowed twice last week, and both times the maintenance staff shoveled around the cans, leaving them crowned with a white coronet of nobility. We are nobility; we shall not be moved!

    I silently bade them farewell Friday after work, secretly hoping to see them again this past Monday morning. Imagine how crestfallen I felt when I arrived at work early to discover them missing. Given that sensation, I can only imagine how heart-rending it will be for you when that cup, stoic as it is, finally succumbs to the inexorable forces of nature.

    If you need to talk about it, I’ll be here for you.

  4. Just more evidence of your ocd, I’d say.

  5. What an oddly uplifting post. The Little Litter that Could.
    I opened your post and thought, “He’s taken a picture of trash…gross.” After reading, though…the picture isn’t gross at all…it’s inspiring. Odd what a difference context makes, eh?

    You’ll have to let us know if it makes it to a year…it will be worth a celebration of some sort.

  6. Now I may be wrong here but my Marine father hated it when people said, “cut the mustard” because he said it was a bastardization of the military term “cut the muster”.

    It also has the opposite meaning. If you can “cut the mustard” you are capable of doing your assigned task where someone who “cuts the muster” is trying to get out of doing their job. (I never missed a muster in my twelve year Navy career.)

    Does that mean if the program isn’t “cutting the muster” they are in fact doing their job?

    Either way, dad would be proud you skipped the Guldens.

  7. Simon – Laughing at your dialog. I hope someone noticed, because then they had something to say to their co-workers upon arrival.

    They shoveled snow around the Diet Cokes? Hilarious. They’d be nice and cold for drinking by that point. Hey, maybe the fridge at work was full, eh? (you like how I threw in a little Canadian flavor for you at the end of that sentence. I care about my readers.)

    Alvis – OCD? Little old me? Um, maybe a little.

    Moksha – That would have been a great post title for this one. I’m keeping an eye on the cup. I almost want to grab it so it can be preserved, because, like Simon says (ha-ha), I will be crestfallen when it’s gone.

    Blitz – Dang it! I think I meant “passing muster.” Does it make more sense that way?

    Reminds me of a scene on Cheers:

    Somebody: He just didn’t pass muster.
    Woody: Maybe he couldn’t reach it.

    I always thought the use of the word “mustard” in that phrase was a mangling of the original use.

  8. Yes Mark, passing muster would make sense because you normally have inspections during muster.

    I remember that Cheers episode. It was Norm talking about his wife having lunch with his bosses wives. That too became a joke at the family dinner table when Mom turned his pet peeve around on Dad and started asking him to “pass the muster please”.

  9. Mark, I appreciate the foreign flavour of your comment responses. Before long you’ll be wearing a toque, insisting on wearing warm, flannel shirts, and playing Beer Hunter on the weekends with your buddies.

  10. Well of course it’s still there. It’s Styrofoam! The f***ing thing will be there a zillion years from now. I don’t know why they don’t build cars and homes and fortresses out of that sh**.

    Oh wait. That cup is on the left.

    Excuse me whilst I retreat.

  11. Blitz – Sounds like you and I both come from families with a good sense of humor. And, on an unrelated note, real ladies’ men.

    Simon – Nice working in of the word “flavour” to show off the fact you weren’t brought up in the U.S. I just found out this year that a toque is what we call a knit cap. Some of the younger kids call it a skull cap.

    Linda – Ha! The fact that it hasn’t decomposed isn’t the marvel. It’s hanging there with its butt out, refusing to be washed away and forgotten.

    The Styrofoam cup was still there this morning, so maybe they’ve established a rapport.

  12. I immediately thought of “Spalding” from “Castaway.” The cup is sort of your friend at this point. I think you should name him something.

    I’m wondering a few things.

    1. Is the cup wedged in there just perfectly so that it can’t move?
    2. Does it have rocks in the bottom of it so that it always stays standing upright, thereby allowing it to repel any of Mother Nature’s attempts to dislodge it?
    3. Did an Engineer do a bad job of positioning that storm drain so that water actually goes away from it, thus preventing it from being threatened by gulley washers?

    By all means, please resist the urge to get out of your car to get a close-up photo or something crazy like that. I don’t want to hear about that on the news.

  13. Chuck – Yeah, Spalding is a good comparison, but I can’t take the cup with me (well, I could, but since I’m not alone on a deserted island, probably shouldn’t.)

    To answer some of your questions, the cup always seemed to be in exactly the same position, so it’s definitely wedged in somehow. I haven’t been at that spot during a downpour, so I don’t know about the rain flow.

    Getting out of my car would have been feasible during the pic above, because I was going into work at about 1 a.m., but normal rush hour definitely makes that a risky proposition.

  14. Spalding? Wasn’t it “Wilson”?

  15. Good catch Curt.

    LOL Wilson is right. It was WAY late when I posted that. That’s my excuse anyway… :-)

  16. Spaulding was the name of the kid on “Caddyshack.” Well, at least I think that’s right. I hate to be very definitive after that last miss.

  17. Curt – Ha! I knew something didn’t sound quite right.

    Charles – Hey, I didn’t notice it either. At least you knew another brand of sports balls. I had a case of that once, you know. Got a shot. Cleared it right up.


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