Thanks for joining me on the verge of Paradise, as a new chapter of my life unfolds. If you're new to Life by Chocolate, or just madly trying to catch up with your blog reading (Can we ever truly catch up?), this non-fictional autobiographical story begins here.
This morning, though, I set forth on an altogether different mission: dispose of toxic waste. See, I try to be a do-gooder, when it’s not too inconvenient. Did you know that it’s illegal to dump certain paints and cleaning products into the garbage bin – specifically, products reading “Caution: This may kill you”? Well, I had a few such items lying around, so I tossed them into a grocery bag and headed for the magical land of Alameda County's Household Hazardous Waste Facility.
So it was that I navigated the unforgiving rains, destined for disposal. It became a symbolic project of sorts; I’d dump the smelly and fatalistic stuff, before making my glorious move to Paradise. Yeah, not so easy. It wasn’t long before I was completely lost, driving through deep puddles of rain and amongst frighteningly monstrous trucks. At one memorable point, I made a wrong turn to face these monsters head-on. Oops. They were generous to let me live, so I went about continuing to drive in circular tenacity.
Twenty-five minutes into these shenanigans, I spied the Regional Technical Information Center. Certainly, such a knowledgeable establishment would advance my mission. It felt like kismet pulling up alongside a “Danger, High Voltage” sign, so I dripped in for help.
“Excuse me, I’m looking for the Toxic Waste Drop-Off Site.”
“Well, nobody’s been around here for years looking for that place,” the kind man advised. “You’re on the wrong part of 7th Street. You want East 7th Street. This is just 7th.”
“Oh, they didn't specify that on the website,” I said with the certainty of a toddler who’s not ready for bed. "Thank you so much.”
Sliding back onto my carseat, my eyes caught the word “East.” Yep, there it was, in legible letters and black ink. I had thoughtfully placed the paper on the passenger’s seat before starting the car. As I wiped off the drippings of yolk from my chin, I headed back towards East 7th Street.
An hour into the journey, I was practically back home and gazing at a big sign that I’d driven by every day for many years: “Alameda County Household Hazardous Waste Facility.”
It was a drive-thru process, but without curly fries. I pulled in, opened the passenger seat window, and a man took my bag with gratitude. One guy stared me down rather conspicuously, as if I hadn’t cleared all the yolk from my chin. He was dark and attractive, so I thought to give him a wink with my phone number. No, don’t do it. Remember your more noble cause: Rid self of waste. The voice inside kept me strong, so I sped off.
In retrospect, I learned a few things:
- Ignoring big signs does not serve me well.
- Failure to attend to directions, even and especially my own, will keep me going in circles and may kill me.
- The act of relinquishing toxicity is much easier and more pleasant than carrying it around.
- If a man eyes me down at the Alameda County Household Hazardous Waste Facility, even if he’s dark and attractive, I should stay strong. (Right? But he did have a nice mustache.) No, no. I mean, yes, make a clean break and move on. That’s the whole point. (Okay.)