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Setting: A typically damp weekend morning at a riverside park in Taipei, Taiwan. An Earth Day clean-up event has been organized at the park by City Hall.

Other volunteers

Lisa and Eli arrive fashionably (or Americanly) late. 

A VOLUNTEER: 快點 ! 快點 ! Quickly!

The VOLUNTEER shoves supplies into Lisa’s and Eli’s hands: gloves, tongs, disposable plastic ponchos, baseball caps and selfie sticks.

ELI: Ahh… I don’t know if we need all this…

MARGARET: Lisa! Hiiiii!

MARGARET holds up her selfie stick and snaps a picture of the two of them.

LISA: Hi, Margaret! Sorry we’re late!

MARGARET: Hurry; you’ll miss the pictures! Come, come! Quickly!

LISA and ELI follow MARGARET into the group at large. LISA tries to put on her poncho and periodically has to freeze mid-process and throw up a peace-sign photo pose for the cameras. 

MARGARET: So excited to be out here for Mother Earth!

LISA: Yeah, me too!

The group starts to move. Everyone is wearing their disposable ponchos and baseball caps. Everyone has their own elephantine trash bag. 

ELI: Pretty big bags; there must be a lot of trash to clean up! I’m excited!

LISA: Oh, man, look! Here’s a lot already!

LISA and ELI spot patches of garbage along the path. They’re still in an area quite close to the road and park entrance. 

LISA: Yeesh, we could stay right in this spot all morning and still not finish.

A VOLUNTEER: 來 , 來 , 來 ! Come! Later, later!

ELI: Um… well, okay. They really want us to stay in a group, I guess.

ELI and LISA fall back in line with the rest of the large, plastic-clad group. One volunteer uses her selfie-stick to take a photo of her next to some garbage. She flashes a thumbs-down and pouty face at the camera and moves along.

THE GROUP eventually stops next to some NIKE MARATHON 2017 banners at the far end of the park and walk around in pairs or small groups, looking for trash or chatting. There isn’t any trash to speak of.

MARGARET: Um, is it just me or is there absolutely no trash to clean up?

LISA: Yeah… there doesn’t seem to be much. Ugh! It’s hard to hold the trash bag and the selfie stick at the same time.

MARGARET: What are we supposed to DO if there’s no trash to clean up?

ANOTHER VOLUNTEER: Where is all the trash?

MARGARET: We were JUST talking about that.

VOLUNTEER: I didn’t come out here for nothing. We better find some trash.

ELI: Ah!

MARGARET: What’s wrong?

ELI: Oh, nothing, this poncho’s just a little tangled on my backpack.

VOLUNTEER: I just want a little trash to clean up! Is that too much to ask? I’m not the kind of person who does nothing on Earth Day.

MARGARET: Totally agree. Let’s go talk to someone in charge about why there’s no trash to clean up. It’s a serious problem.

ELI and LISA carry on. They find a bit of trash once they sneak away from the group cleaning the NIKE-MARATHON-2017-bannered pathways. Closer to the river, most of the waste they find is dead fish and rats.

LISA: Oh god, that smells.

ELI: Do we put that in the trash bags?

LISA: I’m not sure…. Man, fish die pretty quick, huh? We’ve seen like thirty in the last half hour.

ELI: Yeah, weird.

LISA: Well, anyway.

After awhile, they notice that no one from the Earth Day cleanup group is near them any longer. 

ELI: Hey, we should go.

LISA: But… my bag isn’t full yet.

ELI: I know, but we don’t want to get stuck with the trash we have found.

They go back to the trash-covered area in which the group started, where they hand in their trashbags and try to give back the baseball caps they know they’ll never wear again.

ANOTHER VOLUNTEER: No, it’s a present. For you!

The volunteer proceeds to give them packets of paper towels, post-it notes, and cartoony cell phone cases.

LISA: Oh… I don’t even have an iPhone, so I can’t use this.

VOLUNTEER: Present, for you!

ELI: Let’s just take them and go before they give us more stuff we can’t use.

ELI and LISA begin to sneak away. On the way, they see MARGARET talking to one of the event organizers. She is still carrying her trash bag, which is empty. 

MARGARET: I actually have experience event-planning, and there was definitely room for improvement in this event…. 

A volunteer starts chasing after ELI and LISA. 

VOLUNTEER: For you! For you!

ELI: What the hell is…

VOLUNTEER gives them boxes of sweets and baked goods. 

LISA: Oh, I can’t actually eat most of…


LISA (sighing): Okay, okay. Thank you. 謝謝


Inspired by a real story & embellished

Happy belated Earth Day, everybody!