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Monday, 13 June 2011

A Visit to the Recycling Company

By Ralph Lymburner

A few days ago, my friend asked if I wanted to go to the recycling center with her. Arriving at her home I was advised that several boxes of heavy nails and bolts needed to be loaded into her van. There were also steel bars, a solid iron flag stand and assorted metals.

No wonder I was invited along. This maneuver is obviously part of the Boy Friend Improvement Program (BFIP).

After 30 or 45 minutes of wrong turns, we arrived at the recycling yard at the end of the railroad tracks. Upon entering the compound, we saw arrows pointing the way and signs announcing, “No Guns,” “Finger Printing Required,” etc.

We spied a pickup truck next to a booth where a lady with a clipboard and a cigarette dangling from her lips was conversing with the driver. This area was obviously where a person having items to recycle checked in.

Upon approaching the truck, this lady held up her hand to us and started shouting, “Back up.” After three warnings to back up, we reached to spot she wanted us. Unbeknown to us, we were stopped on the scales where they weighed arriving vehicles.

When the truck moved on she waved us up and queried, “How may I help you today.” She politely explained how things worked.

We were given a number, just like at the deli. We then proceeded to an area where four pickup trucks were parked. I couldn’t tell if they were trucks or a mass of rust on wheels.

Each truck had a tough looking, tattoo covered, earring dangling person standing by their rust pile. One of the dirt covered drivers was a woman and they appeared to be characters out of a violent movie.

So I worked up my courage and exited the van to take my place with the group in order to ensure position in line.

We had been given instructions to watch for our number to appear on the display, which was so hard to see, I had to ask one of the group where the number appeared. I was informed very politely that when our number appeared we were to back up to a loading dock. There would be no announcement and if not speedy enough, the next driver may jump line.

Then the fellow next to us greeted me and asked very casually if this was our first trip. When I replied boldly, “Yes it is,” he asked my number. He then explained that our number was right after his and we should be ready when he went up. When he cleared, we should already be in reverse and ready to back up to the loading dock.

I got into a discussion with another seedy looking fellow. He was there almost every day with his spoils. The entire group of the fellow recyclers were very friendly and helpful.

On cue, my friend backed up to the dock. When I opened the van hatch, I was addressed: “Sir, you’ll have to hand that stuff, I’m not allowed to take things out you vehicle.”

Again, further proof of my value to this mission.

After they sorted and weighed our goods, we were instructed to park the van and go to the office in order to reap our rewards.

Upon entering the office building we noticed a glass window with bars covering it. After a customer left, we approached the window and were instructed via a small opening to give thumb print on a pad there. A slip of paper was slid under the glass and as my friend stood there staring at it, a voice behind us boomed, “Excuse me.”

When I checked to see where the voice was coming from, I found myself facing a man’s neck. If I was to ever meet someone looking like this in a dark ally I would still be running. I’m 6 feet tall and this voice was at least 6’ 5” and huge. He was adorned in a full biker’s outfit including a long pony tail, earring and chin ring, bandana, etc.

He pointed out an ATM type machine on the opposite wall and very casually instructed us to swipe the paper under the red light and we would receive our rewards for recycling.

Following instructions, we were utterly amazed and flabbergasted at what we received for our trip: $5.65. That is not a misprint. Five dollars and sixty-five cents for three hours of this place.

This story does have a nice ending. Recalling the adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” a valuable lesson was relearned. We met a group of very nice, helpful individuals who we would not normally meet in our every day activities.

In spite of our meager financial gains, our experience with people we would not normally come in contact with was invaluable.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Boy, your recycling center is more interesting than mine. We just drive up and dump our stuff in the marked containers. One of the centers I go to doesn't even have attendants present.

Wow, this was interesting..living in Brooklyn we have been recycling for years now..every Friday night, we all put glass/plastic/metals in blue plastic see thru bags..paper/cardboard into clear plastic bags or larger cardboard must be folded and tied up together for ease of throwing in truck..you can also leave larger things like non working fans/baby bathtubs of yesteryear, etc next to recycling & often they disappear before 6 am pickups, but are recycled none the less.....loved your detailed account, esp the character developments..good scene..and good for recycling..

Recycling is a big thing in Seattle. We even have a place that takes old TV,s cell phones, well anything electronic for free. Also the drug store all take back the new light bulbs, not halogen, and our garbage is divided into yard and food wastes, recyclable and garbage, which includes anything else. I'd loved to have had your experience however, sounded interesting.

and you got a great story out of it. I loved this.

Great story and I love the BFIP concept.

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