A disturbing new trend in roadside litter leaves us wondering about the future of Whidbey Island.
The ditches along county roads have long been an indicator of our lifestyle, particularly among our young and restless. The type of beverages they toss from their moving vehicles in the wee hours of the morning tell a lot about the changing times.
Years ago the ditches were filled with popular Northwest beer brands, like Rainier, Olympia, Blitz and, for the down-and-out, Lucky quarts. All those brands eventually fell on hard times or were bought out by big corporations, and their presence in the ditches was largely replaced by national brands such as Budweiser, Miller and, for the down-and-out, Schlitz.
One would rarely find a whiskey bottle, but wine bottles were plentiful, all with aluminum caps. Annie Green Springs and Ripple were popular brands, and for the down-and-out crowd there was Thunderbird.
In more recent years the heavily advertised Ice style of beers came along, along with Lite beers and imports, especially Heineken. Whiskey became more common as the switch was made to plastic bottles for the cheaper brands.
In the last few years, there’s been a lot of Mike’s Hard Lemonade and fizzy wine-and-juice mixes in the ditches, along with large quantities of plastic Pepsi bottles. Late night cruisers are not switching to soft drinks, they’re just mixing the Pepsi with the airline-size liquor bottles dotting the ditches. It must take considerable skill to mix a drink while rounding a curve at 60 mph at 2:30 a.m.
The unsettling trend over the years has been to higher-priced brands of beer, more exotic wine concoctions, and more hard liquor bottles. This suggests that lower class islanders can’t afford to live here any more, and are being replaced by a more elitist crowd.
Last week this trend became more pronounced as for first time ever recorded on Whidbey Island, a fancy wine cork was found along the roadside. This was disconcerting. Is Whidbey getting so upscale that new arrivals are cruising the roads in their Lexus sedans, sipping chilled wine from a glass? What’s next, discarded brie wrappers and caviar cans?
This particular cork was branded “Cavit,” which must be a much higher-class wine than Ripple of Thunderbird. A check on the Internet confirmed the suspicion. Cavit isn’t just a wine, it’s a collection, “the source of America’s No. 1 Italian wine.” Cavit makes all kinds of fancy wines, described as “stylish, elegant and versatile.” The cork, of course, drives home the point.
No doubt Cavit has its place, but that place is not in a ditch on Whidbey Island. Note to Island County Sheriff’s deputies: If you see a Lexus out at 2:30 a.m., stop it. If you find a bottle of Cavit in the car, tell the occupants to switch to Budweiser or get off the island. They’ll just drive up our property values.