What Would The Phantom Do? #1

Okay, an email I just got from – well, let’s just call him ‘Vigilante Vic’ – has prompted the first in a new occasional series on pithy Greenwich-based moral debates – What Would The Phantom Do?

Vic writes:

As one of the many residents living on Calvert Road, I am becoming really frustrated by the utterly selfish attitude of some customers who frequent the Wing Wah Buffet on a Sunday afternoon. Not only do we have to run the parking gauntlet from 2pm – 9pm every weekend, but we also have to clear up the rubbish left behind by those patrons who buy their “take away”, eat in the car and chuck the remnants onto the pavement before driving off. I know this doesn’t apply to all customers, only the selfish few, but I’m getting pig-sick of them causing a blot on our landscape.

So yesterday I took the matter into my own hands. As I was walking the dog (to protect the innocent I’m going to name said pooch ‘Fido’. I am yet to meet a dog called either Fido or Rover but would love to… TGP) I noticed a pile of chicken bones on the pavements right next to a car where the driver was coincidentally sucking on some spicey wings with his window open. Chicken bones are to dogs what fish bones were to the queen mother (ie, potentially hazardous) so fearing for young Fido’s life I picked up said bones and threw them back into the car. I may have uttered a few expletives too – my bad.

Unfortunately it didn’t end there. Two oiks got out of the car, sized up to me, yelling all sorts of threats, and then started shoving before finally pushing me over. Anyway, long story short, I hightailed it out of there with them continuing their tirade. Thankfully a neighbour saw it all and called the police, who visited an hour later to check I was ok. When I explained the situation to them one officer commented “Good work” – which was reassuring.

Nevertheless, it begs the question – What Would the Phantom Do? I really have had enough of the streets being littered with dirty nappies, takeaway cartons, chicken bones etc. But is it really worth risking your safety?

BTW – they drove away with the chicken bones still in their car.

The Phantom replies:

Blimey Vic – that was brave. But was it foolish?

I have been known to pick up litter I’ve watched someone tossed onto the street and hand it to them, sweetly saying ‘ I think you dropped something…’ I’m not sure I’d have been brave enough to throw chicken bones into a car full of oiks.

I guess my question was – were you sure the chicken bones were theirs? Did you see them chuck them out of the window? I think my actions might have been based on actually seeing the act with my own eyes. After all – if there are so many people who are eating in their cars (and yes, I know there are a LOT – I’ve often seen them doing it – seems a bit odd really, I mean it’s hardly expensive to actually eat-in at Wing-Wah…) and chucking chicken bones out of the window, then how could you be sure that these oiks were THE oiks? That those chicken bones were THEIR chicken bones?

On the other hand, I note that you don’t mention their denying the chicken bones were theirs…

I totally get Vic’s frustration. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have done the same – not because I’d be any less frustrated – just more cowardly. You never know what oiks that chuck chicken bones our of their car window might keep in their glove compartments…

I might have remonstrated with them in an ineffectually British sort of way if I actually saw them do it, but if it was just me and Fido v. a car full of oiks hepped-up on monosodium glutamate, my honest answer is that, I am ashamed to say, I probably would have just quietly seethed before writing an grumpy blog post about ignorant oiks.

Out of interest – have you tried talking to Wing-Wah about it? I can’t remember if there are any bins around there – but then I guess if these people are too lazy to get out of their cars to eat-in, they’re probably too idle to get out of their cars to dispose of litter properly.

So – that is the honest answer from me – but what would YOU do?


15 Comments to “What Would The Phantom Do? #1”

  1. bats says:

    I used to live on calvert road too, once whilst coming home I saw 2 people throw rubbish out of there car. Like the phatom, I used the line that they had dropped something, they got out of the car (I got worried) and they picked it up! They muttered something about respect etc….anyway, my point is that you and I were lucky. The type of people who through rubbish on the street are the type who maybe carrying a knife. Life is more precious than the rubbish on the floor. Yes it may annoy you but you are alive. In my line of work I have seen lots of people, mainly men, scarred for life over a stupid argument…there’s a reason Police all wear stab vests these days.

  2. tintinhaddock says:

    Capital punishment for littering is the only solution.

  3. Phil says:

    Probably as likely to do anything as a fart in the wind but if you see someone littering from their car you can report them here:

    http://www.keepbritaintidy.org/Campaigns/Campaigns/Carlitter/Default.aspx

  4. scared of chives says:

    Only one thing for it:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Do3xhQrAY2k

  5. Boogie Bear says:

    I wish I had been with you, you did the right thing but lacked he necessary firepower to handle the entitled little bully sh*ts.

    I completely agree, I own a dog, I would have perhaps encouraged Fido II to p*ss on their beloved chav-mobile

    We need a call sign like Batman has to gather Greenwich Residents in this situations and kick ass.

  6. Mary says:

    Take the car number – you can tell someone in the Council and ask them to consider prosecution. I am not sure off hand who you should tell – but if you forward to me (or Dick or Miranda) we’ll see it gets to the right person.

  7. Scott says:

    Go to the restaurant and ask that they clean the streets of rubbish that is clearly from their restaurant. McDonalds sometimes send staff out to pick up rubbish near to their restaurant so I don’t see why Wing Wah can’t either. It would only take them a few minutes a couple of times a day.

  8. Fatty Fatty BumBum says:

    Gosh fair play to you, I wouldn’t have had the gumption to do that but would have really wanted to. Certain people in this city have absolutely NO consideration of others. And given how packed the place is, that is not really compatible with living here.

    I have on occasion, when I have seen red seeing someone littering, picked up their litter and in a patronising way said something like ‘don’t you worry, I will clean up after you if you are not capable of using a bin’, accompanied with fake smile. I usually get vacant blank faces in reply but sometimes I get an embarrassed apology. But tbh I would gauge my audience!

    Complain to the restaurant and rally your neighbours to do likewise. Complain to Environmental Health etc…

    Dont let em grind you down!

  9. Richard says:

    If I booted your dog just because it was stood next to some dog dirt (of which there is a tonne of on the streets) would you be upset?

  10. Darren says:

    Pub licensing is often linked to unsocial behaviour. Surely this is something that the council could consider for restaurants?

  11. Capability Bowes says:

    I always, ALWAYS challenge people that I see littering. Usually they are within about 20 feet of a dustbin and I generally point out to them “that big green thing over there that’s for putting rubbish in”. The maximum embarrassment technique always works, I find. It’s particularly bad down the little alleyway between Gregg’s and Sainsburys in Eltham. If nobody is going to challenge these people, our streets just become a cesspool. Greenwich is a major tourist area and we don’t want visitors going home thinking that Greenwich is just one big pile of litter.

  12. Old China says:

    I think I’d have watched and waited to see if any further rubbish was dumped out the car. If there was then I’d consider them caught red-handed and would “have a word”. Nothing too confrontaional but certainly make them explain themselves.

  13. Mary says:

    umm – the trouble with Wing Wah – it used to be the Lord Napier Pub, which of course was licensed. Thus, when it stopped being a pub and opened as a Chinese Restaurant the law allowed them to just pick up the old pub licence and didn’t have to go back to the Council for a new one. If someone would like to email me directly (mary.mills@greenwich.gov.uk) with a complaint I will make some enquiries about some of this.

  14. Mr H says:

    I can sympathize with the Bats (& other residents around the area), however I do find it rather unfair & harsh that the Restaurant should be complained about.

    They should not be responsible for their customers actions, and that goes for any company (except for some businesses like pubs where they can stop serving people who are clearly drunk & likely to cause anti-social behaviour).
    There should be bins in outside and perhaps a pleasant notice to remind people sitting in their cars not to dump their rubbish for the respect of the residents.
    Maybe some helpful advice for the restaurant to put notices/leaflets in the take away bags saying the same.

    How about an education drive in the borough (or even nationally) to inform people of the effects on other people of littering?
    Except the council/government always likes the idea of ‘Fines’ when breaking the law – just another revenue stream! This doesn’t deal with the root cause ie respect, treating others how you like to be treated etc.

    I think most people who dump rubbish will actually stop & think and agree with this when told in the right way as adults.

    Confronting them in an aggressive manner can work, but it can also be highly dangerous & the poster was very lucky in this instance that it wasn’t fatal!

  15. Nelson's Left Eye says:

    There’s little point confronting the grunts who litter as they may well have the immature attitude to litter even more next time ‘to teach you a lesson’.

    I would have thought it in the restaurant’s interest to clean up around their premises. Who wants to visit a place perpetually surrounded by litter?

    Alternatively, the next time persistent offenders are inside, you could slip a note on the windscreen and a bike lock on a wheel to give them a taste of the nuisance they have been causing.