Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wall-E and the not-lesson

Last evening Hubby and I took Child to see Wall-E.

I was a bit worried. When I'd seen the preview and read all the glowing reviews, my primary thought had been, "Wow, this may be the first Pixar movie I don't want to see."

See, I'm a contrarian, deep down. I hate to be manipulated, and I hate doing things that everybody wants me to do. So when I saw that Wall-E had such a strong "message" AND that everybody and their bastard stepchild wanted me to GO ALREADY, I didn't wanna.

But I've loved every other Pixar movie--they've never been schmaltzy or messagy--so I sucked it up and went. And yes, Virginia, I loved it. It was endearing, and a good story, and I went along for the ride. We all came out buoyed up by a sense that love will prevail. That YES, we COULD clean up the planet and make it a wonderful place, dang it!

And then an Old Gold cigarette pack landed at my feet.

Sitting in the car parked next to us were three girls in their late teens or early twenties, already with that hard look, eyebrows plucked and hair scraped back into rumpled, greasy ponytails. The one in the back was lighting a cigarette--clearly the last one from the pack she'd just tossed out the window--with a baby in a carseat sitting next to her. She looked at me, realized I'd seen her do that, and quickly looked away.

I was astounded. Hadn't they SEEN Wall-E? Didn't they know how trash would pile up if we all did that? Didn't she KNOW about the horribleness of second-hand smoke, especially to a baby? Did she not have a brain?

My six-year-old was with me, and she'd seen it too. I had to do something to reset the balance. But what should I do? Toss the pack back in the girl's window? Give her a tongue-lashing? Tell my child, loudly, how littering was wrong?

I did none of the above. I calmly walked around the pack, opened the door, and let Child into the backseat. Then I turned, stooped, picked up the empty pack, and took it with me.

I didn't look at the girl again, but I know she saw me, watched me take her trash away to put it where it belongs. I know my daughter saw me too. I figured that was better, if either of them thought about it, than rubbing her nose in it. It was a better lesson by example, without being lesson-ish.

And isn't that what Wall-E would have done?


Cindy said...

Oh, God. I hope I would have handled that as well as you did.

We've just brought in legislation in Nova Scotia to prevent people smoking in cars with children, and I'm so glad.

Chandra Rooney said...

You can't even smoke in public places in BC and Alberta. Alberta has a law that mandates smokers be a set distance from the entrance of public buildings.

Unrelated: I like robots and that remains my primary reason for wanting to see Wall-E. He looks like Johnny 5 from that Short Circuit movie.

Jenny Graman Meyer said...

Hey Susan!
Thanks for visiting my blog. As you can see, I have been a very bad blogger lately. However, come August 1 I'm ready to go again (having just about completed the project that has absorbed all my time of late).

So, please come see me again, and I'll drop by here more often too!

Susan Adrian said...

Cindy and Chandra: I'm glad to hear about the legislation. Though that stuff is notoriously hard to enforce...

Jenny: Hi! I've got you in my google reader now that I know where you are, so I'll see when you do get a chance to update. :)

Catherine Karp said...

Good for you for handling the situation with dignity and class!

We finally made our WALL-E trip today. Like you, I wasn't thrilled about seeing it, but, gosh darn it, I got teary-eyed watching those two little robots. We also enjoyed Kit Kittredge: An American Girl.

Mima said...

That's a good move Susan. I've been trained by my father since I was a little girl not to throw thrash just anywhere I like, but where it belongs - the trash bin... and that's what I've been training my children to do too... and I just don't understand how other people can litter without feeling guilty about it. WALL-e reminds me that I also need to train them to recycle. Watching WALL-e has made me really worried for the future.