We do not have curbside recycling here in the Land that Time Forgot (also known as Where Democrats Fear to Tread). In the last year, many churches have set up paper recycling dumpsters in their parking lots as a way to generate revenue. (They sell the paper.)
Yesterday I was working away when my vision became so fragmented I couldn't read the screen—my body's way of telling me it's past time to take a break. I took a cool shower, closed my eyes for 10 minutes, and decided to take the paper to the recycling dumpster at a nearby church.
I have a weird fear of locking myself out of my car so, as usual, I pulled the key. When I finished loading my bags and boxes into the dumpster, the key was no longer in my hand. It was not in or on the car. It was not on the ledge of the dumpster. I thought I remembered putting it on the pavement beside the dumpster, but it was not there, either.
The champion of fools and little children was on my side once again, and it turned out that I had an extra key in the glove compartment. I drove home, got a step ladder and returned to the dumpster. The lid was so high that I had to stand on the ladder to open it.
And then I climbed into the dumpster.
Yes. I did. I climbed a ladder and dropped myself down into that enormous dumpster full of paper. (Those remote key things cost over $100.) I cleared a corner and shook out every envelope, bag and newspaper insert. I sifted through the shredder litter. I methodically sorted what I had checked from what I had not. It was hot outside and hotter inside the metal dumpster. For part of a minute, I felt a bit sorry for myself but found perspective. It's much easier to search for a $100 key in a recycling dumpster than a million dollar mattress in a garbage dump.
And Then I Came to the End (my apologies to Joshua Ferris). Time to give up.
When I turned and looked at the opening, dawn broke. A dumpster that required a ladder to climb into was not going to be easy to climb out of.
I could reach the opening but could not haul myself up to it. The walls were smooth--no footholds, no way to climb.
(Much helpless laughter.)
Inspiration! I cleared the space in front of the opening and stacked folded newspaper in two steps. When my newspaper ladder got tall enough, I threw myself out of the opening to the stepladder waiting below.
(Please God, don't let them have surveillance cameras on that parking lot.)
Completely mystified, I went on to run a couple other errands. On the way home, I couldn't help myself. I went back to the dumpster.
Getting into the dumpster was easier the second time. I had a stepladder on one side and the newspaper tower on the other. I cleared the opposite corner and worked my way through all the paper again. 40 minutes later--Bupkus.
One more time through the opening. (Really, God. No cameras. Please?)
Hot and frustrated, I got in the car to head home, when the only logical possibility struck me. What if I put the key of the pavement and unknowingly kicked it under the darn thing?
I laid down on the pavement and peered into the darkness. A suspicious lump in about the center held potential. I happened to have a long quarter-inch dowel in the car, which turned out to be the perfect tool.
After a couple tries, I fished out my $100 key. You would have thought I'd struck gold. I danced. I hopped up and down. I shook the key at the sky and said Thank You. I cel-e-brated.
And then I went home and took a long, hot shower.