As two men in a pickup approach the Salt Lake City-County Landfill, their mouths literally drop open as Mr. Dirt - now a U.S. vice presidential candidate - stands in the road with his arm stretched forward motioning them to halt.
Dirt's shaved head is covered Arab-style with a T-shirt, and his chest-length, bushy beard blows in the wind. Dirt shouts to be heard above the Mormon Tabernacle Choir tape playing loudly from his own small pickup parked nearby.The music isn't all that's loud about Dirt's truck - it is painted with near-fluorescent rainbows, has large signs on it explaining Dirt's campaign and has a patio-table umbrella in front. It is topped by a 12-foot, red-white-and-blue flagpole with a feather on top to represent endangered species.
"Hi, I'm Mr. Dirt and I've found a way to reverse pollution," he tells the men in the truck, who look at each other as if they've just entered the Twilight Zone. Dirt seeks such reactions in hopes of publicity, donations and help to clean up the environment.
"Please read this flier here. It explains what I'm all about. I'd appreciate it if on your way out you would drop it off in that trash can over there. I have to do that because my printing costs are about $20 a day and are killing me. Also, any donation no matter how small would be appreciated."
Dirt allows the men to drive off, then stops the truck behind them - and he approaches the elderly man and two women in it. He gives about the same speech, except he asks permission to look at what they are dumping because he thinks he might be able to salvage it. They refuse and drive off.
He tells the newspaper reporter watching, "It gets me absolutely sick to see what people throw away. A lot of it could be fixed with a little work. Instead we have to ravage the forests for more wood to build more. . . . "
He cuts his sentence short to try to stop another truck - but it doesn't slow down and nearly takes Dirt's arm off.
Dirt - also known as Robert Earl Anderson of Magna - is in his environment at the dump. Earlier this year, he tried to pass petitions inside the dump - but county officials refused saying the dump isn't a "public forum" and that he would create safety problems.
For a while he tried campaigning at the University of Utah and in downtown Salt Lake City but said he and his truck didn't fit in. He considered suing for access to the dump, then figured he could sit outside the dump entrance and try to talk to people as they enter.
He likes the dump so much that he talks about buying adjacent land - if and when he can raise the money needed. He envisions a series of plants there that could recycle the wood, paper and metal brought to the dump, and burn the other waste in such a way to actually purify the air - which he claims he is technologically possible.
He admits that his appearance - sort of a scruffy "Mr. Clean" lookalike - his truck, and even a national convention of independent presidential candidates he organized in Park City last week, were all geared to help his efforts to reverse pollution. "If this doesn't get me on the front page, I don't know what will."
He adds, "I'm doing this full time. A lot of people think I'm crazy but like what I say. My wife thinks I've lost it. She is patient with me but can't understand why I decided to work full time like this for my dream . . . ."
He cuts his sentence short again to run after another approaching truck.