Recycling. It's all the rage amongst you do-gooders. Happily sorting plastics, papers and aluminums, god love you... It's not because I don't care about the environment.. it's just that recycling in Utah was nearly impossible whilst living in my particular condominium. There was only the main dumpster, you see - so you were on your own if you wanted to sort recyclables.. Well you could sort all you wanted, it was getting them to the proper recycling location that was the hard part.
Eventually, city officials proffered giant blue garbage cans for homeowners.. but that left all us condo dwellers out in the cold... which was fine by me - I figured the global warming I was gallantly escorting into fruition would keep me toasty. Alas, I never got into the habit of recycling.. Until today. And now I will never leave a stray bit of plastic or aluminum languishing amongst my empty Doritos bags. Ever. Did I mention EVER?
The Surge is Texas bound as I type, so I took advantage of the empty apartment and used the morning to clean. Y'know - the kind of cleaning he never does.. Tub and toilet scrubbin', refrigerator blitz (dead produce, the humanity!) floor mopping and so forth.
At the end of my whirling dervish of spotlessness I emptied all the trash cans in the house.. This included the bathroom bin and the kitchen garbage can. Then I left the full-to-bulging bags by the front door where I could grab them for deposit in my apartment trash cans on my way to work.
I ran a comb through my snarls, brushed my choppers and slapped a bit 'o' paint on my deathly winter pallor, smooched Maxer g'bye and left for work. As I exited my apartment building I noticed the elderly Polish woman who lives upstairs messing about with the five garbage cans that call the front of my apartment home.
Now there is nothing unusual in this. Said Polish woman messes about with the trash cans once a week. I've noticed it coincides with the arrival of the garbage collectors and figured her cause legitimate as opposed to the legions of crazy elderly women who can regularly be seen going through the garbage in search of a bite to eat. Well, hunger is as legitimate a cause as any - but you know what I mean.
The woman had just finished lugging the trash from our apartment building to the curb. Several heavy duty black trash bags lined the street awaiting pick up. As I felt silly depositing my refuse in the newly emptied garbage cans, I asked if I should put my flimsy, white trash bags next to the others at the curb.
In response, she waddled over to me and yanked the bags from my grip. It wasn't an unkind gesture, more of a grandmotherly-let-me-do-that-for-you-because-I've-been-doing-it-for-years-and-you'll-just-fuck-it up gesticulation. So I handed my bags, stuffed with - among other objectionable items - wet coffee grounds, dirty tampon applicators and yes, wet hair from the drain in my bathroom (I threw up a little in my mouth when I typed the wet hair bit... is there anything worse??)
I stood there uncertainly, not sure if my help was expected or required.. I'd assumed she was maybe going to stuff my two offerings to the Garbage Gods into one of her heavy duty black bags at the curb. But she didn't do that. It was worse, so much worse.
She started by stuffing one of my bags into the other one. Right. Consolidating the trash.. Makes sense. But in the midst of the trash compaction the aged geriatric paused, I could nearly see her nose twitch, and like Max chasing birds, she pounced.
Liver spotted hands clawed apart the plastic bag and talon fingers began an achaeological dig through my trash. Holy Christ! What IS she doing!!! I was truly at a loss. The first thing to spill from the bag was the clump of wet hair from the shower drain. She brushed it aside like so much lint and continued to rummage. Coffee grounds gathered beneath ragged fingernails and still she pressed on.. Used tampon applicators clattered to the sidewalk.
I stood, horrified as the remnants from the past view days of living plopped obscenely onto the sidewalk. In addition to the tampons and wet hair horror, the trash bag (with the assistance of it's Polish midwife) gave birth to moldy banana peels and rotten veggies.
My antediluvian neighbor continued to scrap her way through Bielanko life until she located the abomination. The Soddom and Gomora for environmentalists the world over: A plastic two-liter of Diet Coke.
"Idiotka! Skurwysyn!" she muttered under her breath.
"Can I help you with something there?" I asked helplessly.
The senior spinster ignored me and tossed the empty container behind her and continued pilfering my trash. My offer to help was instantly forgotten the moment I eyeballed a used condom loitering at the bottom of the bag. Mother of god. I will puke right here if she digs through that.
Bony hands rampaged through tissues and coffee filters (both used!) until she located the second cause of her seemingly immense distress. Another Diet Coke container. This one half full.
"Pierdolony Fagas!" she cast a disparaging, milky blue eye my way, twisted off the top of the container and emptied the flat liquid into the gutter.
"Okay then." I said. "Thanks for the help."
"BLUE! BLUE!" She shrieked. Desperately I tried to comprehend. Code blue? Is she having a heart attack? Is this hospital jargon? Annoyed with my dithering, she gathered the offending Diet Coke bottles and shoved them at me, the sinner.
"BLUE!" She nudged me backward while pointing a claw at the garbage cans in front of my apartment.
Understanding razored through my mind. She wanted me to put the bottles in the blue trash can. The one for recycling!
So I did. And you can bet your goddamn life I'll be utilizing ol' "BLUE" in the years to come.. If only to keep my trash - and myself by proxy - from another public raping.