The Case of the Recycled Recyclables
Surfer Girl entered the code to let herself into the secure building. All in all, it wasn't as bad as she anticipated when she saw that about a half inch of snow had fallen overnight and left twenty minutes early for her drive to work. She'd stopped once for a minute or two to check on a woman who had slid off the road and collided with a trash can. One of the green ones. The rest of the drive was smooth, although slow, sailing.
She was all set to change the daily words of wisdom on the dry-erase board on her door when something told her to check out her voicemail messages.
There were eight messages. Something was up.
As she sat there with a pen and paper and listened to the callers, who ranged from irate to confused to bewildered, a couple of things stuck out. Every one of them was from someone on the sixth floor. And all had to do with the recyclables they obediently placed outside their doorways on Thursday nights, like putting a tooth under a pillow, but instead of getting back a quarter, the world woke up with a little less trash to contend with. The problem was, none of the messages made a whole lot of sense.
As soon as the last message started from yet another person on the top floor, Surfer Girl hung up the phone and made her way to the elevator. The door was finally closing when Mrs. Murphy called out for her to hold the car, then took her time to maneuver her walker and herself inside. The door had already been stopped a second time when it tried to close on the walker, so they had to wait through yet another door close cycle. They went through the whole thing once more when they got to the third floor and Mrs. Murphy blocked the door to ask about the special dinner coming up.
Surfer Girl finally made it to the top and got out of the elevator. There, in front and a little to the right, was the building's wheeled trash can, waiting to be rolled up and down the hallway and filled with the items left outside the apartments. She turned the corner and looked down the hallway.
A short laugh burst forth before she could do anything to prevent it.
It was pretty evident what all the calls had been about.
The first two apartments weren't too affected. It was pretty obvious that someone had arranged the top layer so that the one on the left had two cereal boxes and a cracker box sticking out the top of the bag. What was underneath was the normal assortment of cans, bottles, what have you. The cardboard box in front of the apartment on the right had a top layer of water bottles with one plastic gallon milk jug.
The rest of the bags and boxes were something else. Each one had only one type of recyclable. One was all plastic bottles, another had tin cans, a third was all aluminum cans. Each one had a different color sticky label with the type of recyclable written in script.
Now the messages made sense. "Someone was in the recycle bins," "Someone stole the stuff I put out," "Somebody is putting their trash in my bag."
Surfer Girl smiled to herself as she walked down the hallway, taking it all in. Somebody or somebodies had gone to an awful lot of work to sort through things that would shortly be dumped into one big container, then dumped into a huge dumpster with the items from all the other floors.