Being a product of Catholic upbringing, I carry around my fair share of guilt. As a child, the night before making my Confession at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, I would lie awake trying to recall all of my most recent transgressions. Disobeying seemed to be at the top of the list most months. Why was it so hard to Honor thy Father and thy Mother? I guess I was never that kid who jumped when I was called to help. When the devil named laziness beckoned, I followed. “In a minute!” was my mantra and then I would conveniently forget.
Now that I am an adult, life has gotten a lot more complicated. I still stare at the ceiling some nights with one regret or another because try as I may, I am still far from perfect. Being Human sucks sometimes. But there is a new transgression that has seeped into my psyche and can cause that same sick feeling of guilt. I recite a slightly different mantra, “Oh, just this once.” Maybe I don’t lose sleep over it, but the pang at the time of committing the offense is the same. My shoulder slump when I have let myself down. Once again laziness is at the core of this new evil deed.
I am paving my way to RECYCLE HELL! Okay to be honest I am extremely OCD about separating my trash. I have three bins under my sink which I periodically empty out into large containers in the garage. One is for non-recyclable waste and another is for mixed use, such as paper, aluminum cans, and glass. If I make a mistake, I stuff my hand down into the garbage and fish out the misplaced rubbish. After all I figure hands are washable, right? But I have the biggest problem with the newest addition to the recycling family. Compost is by far the smelliest and the most foul. Ugh! I scrape most of the disgusting food down the garbage disposal. I fill my composting bin with any other leftovers which would otherwise result in having to call a plumber or cause the replacement of the unit.
But that’s not all dear reader. (This is hard for me.) I admit that one time while cleaning out my refrigerator, I came upon an old jar whose contents had become an unrecognizable organism. After staring at the specimen (probably from 2002), for several minutes, my hands began to shake. As I turned on the water and the disposal, I began talking myself through what was almost inconceivable to me. I had survived changing many repulsive and leaky diapers, the messes made by my dog after she ate several chocolate kisses, and I have removed the puke off all kinds of surfaces. I knew I could do this.
I gathered my courage and began to unscrew the lid. I turned my head as far away from the aberrant jar somewhat resembling an owl as I squinted while peeking over my shoulder. It wouldn’t budge. I had to run water over the container to loosen the gooey slime. Then using all my strength until my arms quivered in exhaustion, the jar suddenly untwisted, simultaneously unleashing the most vile, repugnant, and nauseating smell of death I have ever experienced. Not daring to inhale again, I glanced inside to determine if I could just throw it under the tap to squelch the rot and dispose of the revolting glop, but was horrified at the discovery of an other-worldly array of colored mold which seemed to move as the air struck its membrane. It was no use. The mold had sucked any moisture the gunge once possessed in a previous life form. I had reached my limit. With trembling hands I returned the lid to the top of the jar (warning – this might be too much for you to read) and screwed it back on.
Then I looked around to see if anyone would observe the sin I was about to commit. The 11th Commandment: Thou shalt not throw recyclables in the trash. I ran with my quarry through the back door to the garage, opened the cover on the small garbage pail and threw it in. With a resounding bang, my fate was sealed. I dragged myself back into the kitchen with heavy shoulders and thought to myself, “I am so weak.” Then I cried out to no one in particular, “Next time I will be stronger!”
I know I have disappointed you. I make myself sick too, but I can assure you it hasn’t happened very often. I remember seeing the final scene of The 9th Gate when Dean Corso played by Johnny Depp willingly stepped through the fiery gates of Hell. Although it was a dramatic ending, I don’t really believe in an afterlife filled with fire and brimstone. Being buried “alive” in compostable garbage would be a more horrible fate for me. If I do go to Recycle Hell, it will be kicking and screaming!
Do you feel a pang of guilt when you don’t recycle?