This post and its comments were originally published on Transformation City Church’s blog.
“Does Milwaukee recycle in winter?” I snapped at Kevin, who was about to throw a wrapper in the trash. He paused.
“Yeah?” He murmured, still holding the wrapper.
“Then why,” I tromped over to the window and jerked a finger downward at the driveway, “Have they not emptied our recycling bins? It’s been weeks. No, months. The bins are overflowing. They’re foaming at the mouth. Haven’t you noticed?”
“Um, I guess I didn’t notice,” he blushed, “But then, you always take out the recycling.” He lowered the wrapper into the trash, set it there, and stared at it.
“Not always,” I smiled.
But almost always. He hangs out with kids, I take out the recycling. If we reversed roles, I would probably end up putting the kids in the recycling bin and he would let the cardboard and cans accumulate around him until he couldn’t move anything except his tongue.
“I’m calling the city,” I declared, drawing my phone and spinning through contacts.
A representative at the Department of Public Works had several interesting theories for the lapse in recycling pickup, one of which was holidays. This was compellingly plausible until I remembered that the only holidays in the last two months were New Year’s, Martin Luther King Jr. and George Washington’s Birthday, none of which were 8-week jubilee celebrations necessitating the shutdown of all local government.
Finally, I had to contribute: “I don’t mean this to be pretentious…” We always say we don’t mean before we say what we mean, so we can be mean without being seen as mean.
“I don’t mean this to be pretentious, but we do tend to recycle more than most people in our neighborhood,” I paused. “We recycle more than we throw away,” I laughed. Yes, I’m good-humored about my goodness. Really, I don’t even think of it as goodness, it’s just a little habit I have, being good.
“Oh yes,” the representative laughed. “You know what? I’ll put a note here to have them do a pick up a week before they were going to. Also,” she said, “once it’s warmer the schedule will be more regular.”
“Thank you,” I said, thinking. “Good bye.”
Once it’s warmer. Last spring and summer, the neighborhood kids had a favorite game, which confused me for a while. Standing about 15 feet from one another, they threw the ball back and forth, but didn’t catch it; they tried to hit some flat shiny objects on the walk. I couldn’t figure out what they were, so I got closer. They were crushed empty soda cans.