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Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on January 17th, 2012, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 12, Issue 45 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 12, Issue 45

The sticky world of recycling

Krider learns a thing or two sifting through refuse

By ROB KRIDER

Like most of America’s youth, my kids are incredibly greedy. They have high-end technical wants in life that cost high-end technical dollars. Last time I checked you can’t get an iPod as a prize in a box of Captain Crunch Berries (although that day may come before I’m six feet deep). My kids like i-anything: iPads, iPhones, iPods. Unfortunately for them, they don’t have an i-Job, therefore they have a lot of i-wants. That’s the rub. My kids are in that in-between stage. They are too young to work at McDonalds but too old to be happy with the free toy in the Happy Meal.

So, where can a couple of kids make a few bucks? In their family’s garbage can, that’s where. Recycling. The saying goes, “One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure,” or in the case at our house, “Dad’s Firestone Double Barrel Ale beer bottle is his kid’s newest nickel.” We decided to stop throwing all of our recycling into our blue bin for the city to pick up and make money on, and we told the kids if they take out the trash and separate the recycling, they could keep the cash.

It all sounds like a win, right? Save the environment, make a couple of bucks for the kids, and teach the children the ideals of hard work and earning money. Unfortunately, at my house it didn’t exactly work out that way. I realized this the hard way when I was at the recycling center today, sifting through dirty garbage bags sticky with Pepsi drippings, attempting to separate plastic from glass from aluminum from … steak? That’s correct, a nice piece of week old steak, ripe with the smell of rotten meat touched my delicate skin as I dug through a bag of cans. Yuck! I was dealing with this disgusting revelation while trying to jockey for position on the recycling scale amongst a bunch of homeless people who were trying to earn a couple bucks for dinner, or crack, or maybe they were going to give the money to their kids. Their kids who didn’t bother to come to the recycling center to deal with the mess just like my kids who didn’t either.

Why didn’t I make my kids go to the recycling center you ask? Why weren’t they there to compete with the homeless for California Redemption Value nickels and dimes? Because my kids’ schedules and the hours at the recycling center don’t work well. The recycling center schedule is essentially made for the homeless unemployed segment of society. They close at 4 o’clock. My kids get out of water polo practice an hour after that, at 5 o’clock, when coincidentally, most of society stops working for the day (well, that part of society that works for a living anyway). If I sound a bit bitter about it I apologize, I still have syrup on my fingertips from sifting through the bags and bags of recycling trying to separate my glass from my plastic from my aluminum.

There was a moment of clarity there when I was standing next to a homeless guy with his cans (for the record I had more than he did) and I thought to myself, “I make a fairly good living. I made all the right choices in life, college, career, Playstation instead of Xbox. Why am I standing next to a homeless guy with my feet stuck in a puddle of carbonated syrup from other people’s drinks so I can collect a few nickels and dimes?”

So back to the question of why? Why was I the one at the recycling center dealing with this mess? Well, I did it because I wanted my side yard back. You see, when we decided to “let the kids recycle so they could make money,” the kids started collecting bottles and cans in the side yard. We couldn’t exactly let them store this stuff in their bedrooms. Therefore Dad’s domain had to suffer. Did we take space away from my wife, whom I love? Nope. My kids threw bag after bag of garbage, sorry, I mean recycling, into my side yard. Did they separate and organize these items in a reasonable fashion? Nope. Did they just throw crap everywhere, leaving a huge mess for me to deal with? Yup. If I wanted to go into the side yard to get a shovel I would have to wade through a sea of aluminum cans that clanked and fell and looked awful. I became frustrated.  I was tired of the yard looking terrible and I wanted the cans gone, regardless of my kid’s water polo practice schedule and regardless of the socialist recycling center operating hours.

Therefore, due to a lack of patience on my part (which has gotten me into trouble before) I was at the recycling center sticky and angry. I will say though, as you sift through your own refuse, you start to learn a few things about yourself. Apparently I’m an alcoholic, my kids drink way too much soda, and my family consumes enough bottled water in a month to sustain a small city in Ethiopia … for a year. So how much money did my kids make by destroying my side yard for months, eating up one of my afternoons and letting me sift through sticky garbage for an hour as I battled the homeless? $21.75. Sorry kids, game over. Throw that garbage in the blue bin and let the city deal with it. I have more important things to do with my time, like Playstation.

Rob decided his time is worth more than recycling was offering. His wife reminded him that with what he makes an hour, the $21.75 is actually worth it.




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