BUDDY Blue Bag needs a ride, and not in the back of one of...


June 26, 1993

BUDDY Blue Bag needs a ride, and not in the back of one of those smelly trash collection trucks where his kind travel daily in Harford County.

The mascot of Harford County's year-old recycling program is becoming increasingly unwelcome as a passenger in county employees' personal cars. It's not worth the mileage reimbursement rate paid by Harford, they say.

With over 150 public appearances a year, Buddy should have his own county van to spread the recycling gospel, public works director William Baker argued before the county council. Buddy "is an important part of the recycling education program," he said. "This is no joke."

Council members, however, did not seem disposed to give the recycling ranger his proper respect.

Let him share a ride in the County Detention Center van used to take work-release inmates to and from the county landfill, suggested Councilman Robert Wagner.

If Buddy would get his private van, Councilman Barry Glassman predicted, it could cause a tussle of titans unmatched since Godzilla did battle with Mothra. The green 911 Dragon, spokesanimal for the Emergency Operations Center, might also demand a vehicle, he warned.

"I'm sure he'll be even greener with envy without his own van," Mr. Glassman quipped.

But what about the transportation needs of the pitch-dogs for other county public service programs? What of McGruff, the crime-fighting hound, and Sparky, the fire-prevention dalmatian?

Left unanswered was the question of how many Harford countians have ever heard of Buddy, even while gladly participating in the curbside recycling program.

At that point, the council decided to bag the idea.

* * *

One of the cultural differences that divide urbanites, suburbanites and rural folk is a sense of distance.

A farmer, for example, might say someone lives "just down the road" when the actual distance yet to travel is a good five miles.

A hopelessly urban colleague had a vexing experience along those lines the other day. He was headed for a suburban store that advertises itself only as being "south of" a major regional mall.

That sort of instruction meant the equivalent of a couple of blocks to the urban dweller. He drove up and down the highway for what he thought was a significant distance without finding the store.

Finally he found a telephone and called the store. "It's two traffic lights south of where you are," he was told.

That was accurate.

The trouble was, the second traffic light was more than a mile from the mall that was used as the point of reference -- a goodly hike to the urbanite.

That's the kind of communications gap that should trouble advocates of metropolitanism.

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