My Story, Yours Too.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Woman on the Verge of Paradise: Project Toxic Waste Disposal

Sign reads: "May you find Paradise to be all its name implies."

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.
With just 10 days left in the San Francisco Bay Area, you’d think I’d be scurrying to Ghiradelli’s Chocolate Factory for one more tour (which includes a free sample) or, at least, treating myself to a chocolaty gelato at the Tutti Frutti on Central Avenue. Actually, I did that one yesterday. And it was good. Really good.

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.)
I think I’m ready for Paradise. I think.


  1. Robyn, you always seem to crack me up with your tales of shenanigans. I am glad you found the waste place. I did a run to the one near my house when I moved a year or so ago. Got rid of a bunch of stuff I had never finished using.

  2. His loss your gain both ways...besides the moustache may be toxic or worse still fake...why was there yolk on your chin in the first place...?

  3. You may be ready for Paradise, but he was ready for a wink. That voice inside you needs a gag.

  4. You're ready :0) I've driven past signs like that too...yup! Lol.

  5. Does paradise have a toxic waste dump? Doesn't seem like it could and retain that name.

  6. too funny! I'm suprised there is toxic waste in Paradise

  7. Thanks, all. I'm sure there's not a formal toxic waste site in Paradise. My luck, I'll find all the waste anyway. xo

    Rek, yeah, his mustache was likely toxic. It looked rather full, like he was hiding things in it. ;0)

  8. I think your radar was working perfectly. A man with a fine and mighty mustache is a rare find indeed. But you don't want someone who deals in toxic waste all days. All kinds of additional digits and appendages (sp?). He might me a hell of a swimmer but webbed toes would freak me out.

  9. I think most of the bad guys in movies have mustaches, don't they?

  10. Sadly on the east coast most people used love canal. Hey I'm crossing my fingers and toes for a glorious new beginning to your life.

  11. You are so ready for paradise...I mean seriously - is the man from the toxic waste place your future romeo...I DOUBT IT. Loved this line "As I wiped off the drippings of yolk from my chin," PRICELESS!

  12. Friends don't let friends give their phone numbers to men with porn-staches.

  13. I'm one that is 'madly trying to catch up with my blog reading' and thank goodness I have! This series is brilliant Robyn! I'm not going to have to catch up again, I'm going to be reading avidly as soon as you post!

    Rapunzel x
    *Tales from the Tower*

    ps I love that everyone has got all excited about the romance in my last post, while you are being the voice of reason and reserving judgement until you know that Hands is an honourable guy. You are my American Goddess!

  14. So, it's safe to say that pouring motor oil down a sewer is wrong?
    I'm just kidding!
    I dump it in my neighbor's garden.

  15. I am ready for you to hit paradise running and start this adventure. I'm sure you are going to have some interesting stories for us. BTW, I believe you were wise ignoring toxic waste man. No matter how good looking he may have been his fluids probably have higher then acceptable levels of something toxic (or worse)...

    A great and funny post Robyn!

  16. Life seems to have some unusual twist and turns for you. You did a good thing disposing of those toxic chemicals in the appropriate way.Hugs!~Ames

  17. Only you could make toxic waste so funny!!

  18. Hey, just because he works at the Alameda County Household Hazardous Waste Facility doesn't mean he's all bad. Although my gut tells me that he is one of the men you have blogged about from a dating site.

    I never pictured you as the waste disposal type. But I'm glad you are as it made for a great story.

  19. My husband just did the same thing but didn't have as much fun as you did!

  20. Kal, good point. I didn't see his hands or -well- anything below the neckline. xo

    GR, you make a valid point too. Thanks for visiting. ;0)

    CB, thank you. That's sweet. xo

    Alex, I'll remember that. [~:

    Terra, I appreciate it. It is difficult to imagine that my dream man might be working at a toxic waste site, but I suppose it's better than unemployment. Or maybe not. xo

    Jane, that is one of the best comments I have ever received, and I've had many great comments. You're awesome; I knew you were a real friend. =o]

    Rapunzel, with age comes cynicism. I try to tamper it on your blog, but I've got your back. I'm glad you realize it. =o)

    Al, hey, thanks for the great idea. Oh darn, I just remembered I like my neighbors. xo

    Thanks Pat. That's true. It's best that I don't find out anything about his bodily fluids. [-;

    Ames, hugs back to you. xo

    Marlene, thank you. It was pretty funny, even when I was parked next to the "Danger, high voltage" sign. =->

    Cheeseboy, I do try to be green and eco-friendly sometimes, but I'm glad you don't picture me as a waste disposal type. I imagine that's not a pretty picture. xo

    Gayle, clearly, your husband's a more attentive driver and more level headed. Did he see the man with the black mustache? {-:

  21. sounds like a dirty, big old pick up joint (of sorts)

  22. The dark and attractive ones are always so hard to pass up. I'm proud of you. :)

  23. "They were generous to let me live"
    I am so glad :)


  24. Rapunzel, I meant "temper" not "tamper." ;0)

    David, that's a good one. Yeah, I keep thinking about more mileage I could get with this toxic waste site material. This hazardous stuff goes a long way. xo

    BabySis, thanks.I knew you'd understand. (~;

    Pax, me too. Thank you! xo

  25. Robyn does it again!
    ignoring toxic waste man was pretty wise.

    i'm proud of you.

    Have a great weekend!

    B xx

  26. Um...dark and nicely moustached?

    Did he appear in any way to be Spanish?

    Cuz if so I'm afraid I must disagree with your chosen course of action.


    - B x

  27. You get a "good citizen award." Only more people should be so conscious of poisen and hazardous material. I try as I notice everyone around me breaks the laws.
    You should have at least winked at the cute, dark guy!!!

  28. Ha, if it were me, I would have given up and just thrown the stuff in the nearest garbage can. But that's just me. I'm not a good person.

  29. Heeeeey! I just noticed my blog on your blog roll! I'm excited! Thank you!

  30. Betty, thanks for the assurance. xo

    Barreness, um, yes, dark and perhaps a Spaniard. Damn, I knew it. I'm looking for something toxic right now. Maybe he's still standing there. I'll report back. ;0)

    Manzanita, thank you. Yeah, a wink does no harm in and of itself. The man works with toxic waste; he probably deserves it. xo

    Shannon, I got a bit of a lecture from a friend, so my conscience got to me.
    You're welcome. I don't want to miss any of your fun posts. [~:

  31. Another Friday post I missed on Friday... sheesh.
    Be careful you don't make any wrong turns in Paradise. You could end up in the canyon.

  32. You're bad at directions? I would've never guessed! :) Good idea to make a clean break, but you haven't checked him out yet. Maybe he's blog worthy...

  33. IT, it is a beautiful canyon, but I do appreciate the warning. xo

    Sarah, ssh, don't blow my cover. Thanks. ;0)

  34. Oh Robyn, I almost missed this post! I am sure glad I clicked older post :)
    I love that you are a do-gooder! I loved this post, very funny!
    gi gi