Editorial: A Drought-Shaming Diary


April 16, 2015 - Local

by Joseph Humphries, Pasadena

We live in a new era of southern California. One without any water. So we as Pasadena residents need to make changes to the way we use water to ensure our city’s success for the coming decades.

I had been eager to get involved in this issue, and attended numerous drought workshops, charity groups, rain dances, etc. And while these all led to intriguing insights, I found no experience to be quite as successful and instantly rewarding as drought shaming.

Ah, shame! An emotion that at once humbles and corrects. It’s a beautiful tactic for saving water, and I just wanted to share with you some of my wonderful success stories:

My first drought-shame came a few weeks ago when I saw my neighbor Rex was using his garden hose to water his car. What a wasteful use of non-recycled water! So being coy, I waited until later that night and spray-painted a message of conservation on his garage door in red paint:

“Wow. Wow. Are you serious?. You think your car needs water more than people? Who the fuck do you think you are? What the fuck is wrong with you, you horrible ignorant bitch??”

That sure showed him! I haven’t seen him wash his car since! And now he has video cameras set up all around his garage!

Another time I was strolling through my neighborhood when I saw the 13-year-old McCormick twins playing in a sprinkler outside. I could not hide my offense at their naivety, and let them know directly to their face that wasting water is a big issue in Pasadena:

“What the hell are you kids doing?!?! Do you idiots have any idea what a drought is? Let me ask you, when twins are in the womb do you each only get half a brain? You’re a mockery and everyone at your school hates you! You’re stupid little babies and are never going to get a girlfriend or be cool! You should just die (if you’re unwilling to learn about the atrocities of water wasting in California)!!!”

I know it seems tough on those boys, but shaming is the one true effective method for getting to tell your neighbors how you really think about them under the guise of conservation. Uh, I mean, the one effective method for helping save water!

So do not hesitate when you feel the urge to shame someone into doing what you want. It can be right to their face, on the phone, or even in a letter! Consider this one I recently wrote to a family of five down the street who didn’t have rain barrels installed-

“You bitches. You fucking bitches. Oh, don’t act like you don’t know what you’ve done. You’ve made us all very angry and now you must pay! The streets will run with your children’s blood! California snowpack levels are at 10% of their normal volume, and the price will be your family’s lives!”

Needless to say, that family moved away the next day! Talk about results!

So anyway, I hope you learned something from my experiences. We as Californians need to do more than just conserve water. We need to develop attitudes so people are aware of the drought. Once people understand that they should feel no greater shame and horror than at the discovery they are not using water efficiently, only then can we survive this shameful trend.