Posted: June 12, 2007 in The Roper Files

Went to work last Thursday and spent nine agonizing hours struggling to look busy.  Stomped out an hour early. Went to work yesterday (Monday)  Same thing, only there’s a note on my toolbox from my supervisor. He’s going on vacation for a week; see you next Monday. Spent nine hours struggling once again to look busy; actually made an entire ten-hour shift this time. Then I gave ’em the slip; a vacation request slip that is. Right at the last minute of quittting time; just the way the boss hates. I’m getting to the point where I don’t want to get out of bed much less drive to that place.

Slept late today; how nice! Got up, made fresh coffee and took in some serious TVLand time. Then it happened; I got bored.

 Being left to my own devices gets old quick. Looking around the house, I found a chore I had been putting off. The perfect day-off job, or so I thought.

I have a totally insane neighbor who compulsively collects junk. She owns two houses on my street stuffed floor-to-ceiling with stuff she’s collected off peoples’ curbs, out of dumpsters, etc. She and her husband have at least a dozen you-store-it warehouses full of stuff as well. Well, here’s where the pot says: “Mah oh mah, dat kettle sho am black!”  Remember on PEE WEES PLAYHOUSE each episode Pee Wee would drag out his foil ball, which of course was a little bigger every week?  Well, I’ve got my own “foil ball”. 

Right behind me is a plastic bag in the corner of my kitchen. Everytime I come home from the grocery store, Subway, Quiznos or wherever, I shove my plastic bags inside this big bag. I’ve only been here for nine years, not sure how long exactly though I’ve been stuffing this bag. Don’t remember what exactly this bag held originally, but it has served me well. 

A heavyweight fighter could work out with this bag; it’s four or five feet tall and damn near as big around as my washing machine. It is completely stuffed with a seemingly countless number of plastic bags. There are two  grocery stores I use the most, Albertsons and Tom Thumb. Both of them have big bins out front for recycling plastic bags. I decided while full of coffee that I was going to sort these things out and take them back to their respective stores. Rolling up my sleeves and digging in, I didn’t realize the scope of this task. Within minutes, I have bags up to my knees. Wal-Mart bags both white and blue. White Tom Thumb bags. White Albertsons bags. A separate bag for those clear newspaper bags. Bags the phone book comes in. Subway and Quiznos bags. The bags multiply in front of my eyes: stop that!  Should have had ’em spayed.

This is like a archeological dig; I’m finding bags from my last trip to Los Angeles in 2004: the Vans store. Golden Apple Comics. Taschen Books.  Jeez.  This is from three years ago and I’ve just barely scratched the surface. I’m now finding bags from grocery stores that have closed, like Levels and Minyards. My kitchen floor is now filled with bags of bags. I open the door and start carrying Tom Thumb and Albertsons bags out to my truck. I’m going to get rid of these damn things if it’s the last thing I do.

With the cab of my truck filled with plastic, I cruise down Hulen Street over the huge bridge that goes over the railyards. First I hit Tom Thumb; I get out with four bags full of Tom Thumb bags and head straight for the bin out front. Looking at the roof, I notice surveillance cameras. Am I being videotaped?

Shoving each handfull of plastic in the bin, no one gives me a second look.  Good.  Spinning around on one heel I turn back for the truck. Phase one complete.

Then I speed down the street  to  Albertsons. Same thing; get out with bags. Stuff ’em in bin; and quickly leave. Phase two complete. 

Get back to my house. For all my work, the bag is now bigger, fatter and taller. What the hell? How is this possible? Wonder if my magpie neighbor down the street would take them if I put them on the curb?

Otherwise, I give up.



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