First, an update to my loyal readers: I am currently working on a few big stories which will be published on this site in the coming weeks, so I haven’t had time to post as much recently. Once I get those out I will start posting more frequently, so you’ll want to check the site every day.
And now, the funniest thing I have ever seen:
I was at the Solid Waste Transfer Station just outside the town of Waimea, on the Big Island of Hawaii, throwing away a few bags of garbage on my way to the beach.
This dump is similar to most others in the country, there is an area for trash, an incredibly depressing area for bulk items and potentially reusable items such as stoves or damaged Big Wheels, and a recycling area for cardboard, plastic, glass, etc.
In Hawaii you are supposed to separate your glass bottles by color; clear, green, and brown, and there is a corresponding Conex trailer for each color of glass that you chuck your bottles into.
A visit to the dump really makes you think about a lot of things you might otherwise not have, such as where does all of this trash go, and did that lady really just take a leaking bag of garbage out of the unlined trunk of her Camry?
What a total slob.
In this instance it made me think about the volume of alcohol that people consume.
Indeed, it is nearly impossible to take out your trash without feeling as though you have a Leaving Las Vegas caliber substance abuse problem.
Having been to several dumps in Hawaii, I can state that the bin for paper is rarely used and typically about thirty percent full, roughly the same for the mixed recyclables such as plastic.
The glass bins are almost always overflowing with bottles to the point that people just start stacking their bottles next to the bins, and, remember there is a separate bin for EACH color of glass.
It appears that Hawaii’s government has underestimated its population when it comes to drinking.
I was listening to season 2 of Sarah Koenig’s popular podcast Serial, which is about US Army private Bowe Bergdahl who abandoned his base in Afghanistan and was promptly captured by the Taliban like an idiot. Koenig interviews some former Taliban leaders, and it turns out that their perception of Americans is that they are literally drunk all the time.
I’m pretty sure if you were to drive past any major American city center past the hour of 9 pm you’d find yourself agreeing with the Taliban.
Just look at any grocery store where they sell booze. Your typical American grocery store has one aisle of frozen stuff, a meat section, a dairy section, a bakery section, a produce section, a canned food section, a snack section, a beverage section, and depending on what state you’re in, a liquor section.
The scale of the liquor section is mesmerizing. People obviously like cheese. The cheese section in the Ralph’s by my house carries 54 types of cheese, I went and counted. This includes everything from a brick of cheddar to a bag of shredded mozzarella to a disk of the processed Laughing Cow stuff and everything in between.
If a certain cheese was packaged in different increments, say sliced cheddar, 4 ounce block of cheddar, 8 ounce block of cheddar, I counted them each as a separate item.
Using the same method of counting, the same Ralph’s has 84 kinds of beer, 108 kinds of wine, and 72 kinds of liquor. It only has 36 kinds of bread, the staff of life.
There is more booze than any other category of food, and this isn’t even a liquor store. It’s a grocery store. People need food, they don’t need to get drunk, or do they?
Anyway, so I’m turning around to pull out of the dump when I see this Hawaiian guy pull up in a shabby pickup. In the back of the truck he has these massive, very large boxes overflowing with beer and liquor bottles. Boxes the size of a small dresser. All he has is these boxes of bottles, no other household trash.
I notice that all of the bottles are meticulously sorted by color, each color in their individual box.
The guy calmly pulls up to the area where you dump refuse, the unrecyclable trash, which is located directly across from the recycling station, which would have been impossible to not notice, and impressively heists these large boxes of sorted glass, one by one, into the general trash container, as they disappeared forever into the abyss of the Conex to be shipped to China.
I don’t know why I marveled so intently at this event, but I loved it.
First, it’s just hilarious to watch people fail at things, and the simpler the task the funnier it is. Like when someone falls down. This is one of the funniest things in the world, because they are failing at doing something so basic, which is walking.
I began to construct hypothetical scenarios in my head.
The guy lived with some woman who at some point initiated this process of separating all of the bottles by color, and while the dude may have had some reluctance because he thought recycling was stupid, or he read something about how recycling is actually fairly pointless, or he didn’t really like all the extra bins laying around in the kitchen, or he just generally didn’t give a fuck about anything, he agreed to go along with it.
The guy clearly drank more than the woman, and I can’t speak to the severity of which, but there was at least one instance where the woman became annoyed with the guy because he would just toss his beer bottles in with the regular trash, or get the colors mixed up in the bins.
Maybe he did hear her, but on the short drive from his home to the dump started fantasizing about what it would be like to be in the rodeo, about how many hours it would take to learn how to properly lasso a calf, and this is what he was still thinking about as he mechanically tossed the bottles into the trash, with no cognizance of where he was or what he was doing, his body and mind in different places all together.
She may have even witnessed him repeating this same behavior at the dump, and before he left the house, said “Now remember, those are recyclables. Are you listening to me?” And he said “Yeah” and she said “So what did I say then?” and he said “Jesus, leave me the fuck alone” and drove away.
She may have interpreted his lack of passion for recycling as a general sort of right wing mentality, a blatant disregard for mother nature, and assigned to him several beliefs which he never expressed or even had, staring at him in hatred while he was eating a chicken burrito, simmering at his hardline stance against abortion.
Maybe, just maybe, he was thinking “I’ve got your fucking recycling right here bitch” as he was trashing the bottles, deriving perverse joy from his actions, never telling a soul what he’d done.
I think that’s what made it so funny to me. Someone worked pretty hard to separate all these bottles, someone who obviously cared about recycling, and this one dude, for whatever reason, invalidated all of that in three svelte swoops.
It was a prescient metaphor for why the world sucks.
I expected to look over and see some yogi dude with a ponytail shedding a single tear, perhaps even stripping off his clothes to dive into the dumpster like he was saving a drowning child, but nothing happened, and I drove away.
Once in North Dakota I came across a small town whose City Hall was located next to a liquor store. City Hall was about 700 square feet. The liquor store was the size of a Best Buy.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, which is completely incompetent and worthless, the average American produces 4.5 pounds of trash per day, and only 4.5 percent of that is glass.
I don’t believe anything they say, and I don’t believe that either.