This I Believe

Michael - Sun City, Arizona
Entered on November 17, 2006

We seldom think about chain reactions that occur as a result of our own actions.

One Monday evening I was taking our trash out when I saw it for the first time. I had flipped the lid open on our underground garbage can when I saw a wad of facial tissue in the bottom of the garbage can. I instantly had a vision of how this happened: a woman was walking by our house, had to blow her nose and didn’t want to put the snotty tissue back in her pocket so she flipped open the lid to our garbage can and dropped it. In my mind it was so snotty it was stuck to the bottom. I was sure a woman had done this because I have yet to meet a man who walks around with a tissue in his pocket. For men putting a clean handkerchief in their pockets is part of getting dressed each day. For women putting some clean tissues in their pockets or purses is part of leaving the house but only after they have taken time to use the bathroom. Now I understand why women use the bathroom before they leave the house because after a movie at the theater I’m glad I don’t have to sit down to go. However, I have never really understood the tissue versus the handkerchief thing. I figure a handkerchief can hold a lot more snot than a tissue so I’d rather put a used snotty handkerchief back in my pocket than a used snotty tissue.

Just a few weeks before I found the tissue we had bought a new garbage can; it was still shinny and looking new. As I looked at the tissue in the bottom of our garbage can I thought about what I was going to do with it. Maybe it was stuck or maybe it wasn’t. I thought sitting down in the bathroom at a rest stop along the interstate highway would be mild compared to reaching in and picking that thing off the bottom of our garbage can, which was classified more like expressing our dog’s anal glands. I had already tied the trash bag closed with a square knot. I really didn’t want to work that knot loose then pull the garbage can out of the underground and try to dump the tissue into the bag without some help holding the bag open. Besides what if it was stuck I’d still have to reach into the garbage can and break it loose with my hand and that wasn’t going to happen. I decided to just drop the trash bag into the garbage can and hope everything would fall out the next morning when the garbage men dumped our trash into the big garbage can they push around on a two-wheeled dolly.

I had forgotten about the tissue until the following Thursday evening when I was again taking out the trash. I flipped open the lid to the underground garbage can and I saw it at the bottom of our shiny new garbage can; that tissue was still there; now I knew it was stuck to the can. Again that evening the trash bag had already been tied closed with a square knot and I didn’t have enough hands to hold the bag open and try to dump the tissue into the trash bag. I thought about pulling the garbage can up out of the underground, laying it on its side and using the garden hose to wash it out but then I realized if I did I’d have a wet, soggy, snotty tissue on my driveway that would need to be picked up and put into the trash bag. Every method I could think of to remove the sticky, snotty tissue was in the same classification as expressing our dog’s anal glands. Again I decided to just drop the trash bag into the garbage can and hope everything would fall out the next morning.

For the next two weeks every Monday and Thursday evenings I flipped open the underground garbage can to see the sticky, snotty tissue stuck to the bottom of our shiny new can. Each evening I would just drop the trash bag into the garbage can and hope everything would fall out the next morning. On the Thursday evening of the third week I decided that if I can express our dog’s anal glands then I can do this. I went back into the house and got a pair of disposable latex gloves. We have a box of latex gloves in the house just for the purpose of expressing the dog’s anal glands. I untied the trash bag, put on the gloves, pulled the can out of the underground and pulled the sticky, snotty tissue off the bottom of the can. It made a crinklely snapping sound as I moved it, when it let go of the can the can made a ‘thung” sound in a deep base tone. I threw the tissue in the trash bag, pulled the gloves off letting them fold inside out and dropped them into the trash bag, and tied the trash bag closed. I put the can back in the underground, dropped the trash bag into the can, and closed the lid. That was the end of the sticky, snotty tissue.

Whether it be disposing of a tissue or a single particle of dust thrown into the air by the tires of our car, this I believe: each and every act (no matter how small) of each and everyone of us will have some effect on the future of this creation that each of us is a part of.