By Ken MacDonald •
Miss Diane, as she’s known in the Five Points area, is equipped with a trash grabber, a bag, and a cheerful attitude as she travels Calloway Road, keeping it clean. She emanates good vibes for all her neighbors and travelers—except one, a person she would like to smack.
“Oh I would love to catch him,” she says with a growl. “Lottery tickets—I picked up 82 the day before Christmas—the pick-three and pick- five?—I just picked up 44 down there yesterday. And I cursed him the whole time. I say (with each word, she mimics stabbing a piece of trash on the road) ‘I hope you NEVER, EVER, EVER win…’ So if he wins anything, it’s not because I wished it on him!”
But mostly, she is good-natured about her mission, her daily patrol to keep the roadside clean. In her third year of living on Calloway, she says her initial cleanup took her four afternoons and filled 31 bags of trash. “I mean it looks 150 percent better than what it was—it was nasty down through here.” Now, she just does maintenance. “I’m staying on it. If I don’t – I mean, I understand it will be back the way it was.”
“I’m going to walk and ride a bike whether I do it or not, I don’t mind, it looks so much better. I know some people appreciate it, so…”
And they do. At Five Points Grocery she is described as nothing short of an angel.
When told The News-Journal has received a couple of letters to the editor praising her work, she joked, “I only give autographs on Tuesday. “That’s funny,” she adds. “It’s nice to be appreciated for it.”
Speaking while straddling her bike as cars zoomed past Sunday, she say cars are her biggest worry, especially in the summer when she doesn’t like to walk in the grass because of snakes.
Miss Diane says residents of the area give her wide berth and wave vigorously as they pass on the way to work.
Asked if anyone’s ever offered to help her, she says, no. “Maybe they think it’s my job.”
“I have to laugh. I get stopped all the time, and ‘Hey, there’s trash down there!’ ‘Okay, I’ll jump right on it, I’m not getting paid to do this but I’ll jump right on it!’”
She says she does wish homeowners would clean their own property. “I know they get frustrated with trash in their yards all the time, but you wash your dish every time you eat, I mean I would just appreciate it if people would pick up in their own front yards,” she says.
What makes someone pick up others’ trash? She says it stems from when she was a teenager. “We used to have quite a bit of property up in New York, and there used to be a little dirt road that ran along our property. People would dump their trash there, and my dad used to make us go out and pick it up. Of course, we cursed him at the time, because we were teenagers, but it made me respect…” A car zoomed past and drowned out the rest of her sentence.
She adjusted herself on her bike and surveyed the scene ahead. “I’d say maybe 90 percent of it is fast food, beer cans, soda, but then the rest of it is coming out of the backs of pickup trucks when people are going to the dumps,” she says. “It’s hard to believe that when they ride back through that they don’t see it, that they can’t stop to pick it up. Unfortunately that’s the big stuff. Then I have to go home and get my car, and pick it up and put it in that, and go to the dump.
“The fast food kills me. I mean you pull up, they BRING you the food, you don’t have to cook it, I mean can you at least get the bag to the trash? It’s just like out the window it goes. I have to hope that it’s kids—I hate to think grown adults are doing it.”