- Did a person leave this chicken bone on the sidewalk? Or something else? (Photo: TBD Staff)
It's not particularly unusual to stumble upon chicken bones on the ground in many D.C. neighborhoods. I only had to walk about two blocks from my house in Shaw before I found the one in the photo to the left, just for example. But one former Capitol Hill resident wishes her neighbors would think before assigning blame for how they got there.
It might sound trivial, but it's an issue that's come up at the ground level of local governance of late. Last week, we told you about Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6A's attempts to get a new 7-Eleven on H Street NE reclassified as a fast-food establishment. The ANC's issue with the national convenience store chain stems from, among other things, concerns over their insistence on selling prepared chicken wings. Chicken wings lead to chicken bones being tossed carelessly on the ground, the commissioners have reasoned, which can be dangerous for dogs and attract vermin.
But in a message sent back in May to one Capitol Hill neighborhood email list, Carrie Nelson offered an intriguing counter-argument: It may often be squirrels, not people, that are responsible for leaving bones behind in odd places.
Nelson, who owns a yellow Labrador, admits that she had for some time also pointed fingers at her neighbors for this serious threat to her pooch. "It was like, oh my God, who's throwing their chicken bones on the ground?" she says. Not until just such a bone literally fell out of a tree right in front of her did it occur to her that squirrels might often be to blame.
"I looked up and I saw a squirrel up there," Nelson says. "Here I am blaming all my neighbors for being complete jerks."
Nelson guesses that residents are responsible for this bone situation in at least one way, though. The squirrels can only nab those bones out of garbage cans if people don't do a good job of securing their trash lids, she reasons.
Neighborhood debates over chicken bones often carry some uncomfortable subtext, Nelson admits, so she hopes her former neighbors on Capitol Hill (she recently moved to D.C.'s Hillcrest neighborhood) will exercise a bit more understanding.
"There is something sort of underlying it ... I don't know if I'd say it's racial, but more like, people assuming the worst," she says.
For his part, ANC 6A commissioner Drew Ronneberg, who's been leading the negotiations between the commission and the 7-Eleven, says he hopes residents understand that concerns about the new convenience store are about much more than chicken wings.
"Our history of fast-food establishments is no one wants to say they're a fast-food establishment," Ronneberg says. "You see a lot of trash from 7-Eleven," he notes, including pizza boxes, hot dog wrappers, and the like. "It's really about pizza and burritos ... all of the hotdogs and all of the fast-food."
Ronneberg says ANC 6A plans to file its appeal of 7-Eleven's certificate of occupancy on Friday.