"Could you get rid of that old electronics stuff in the basement closet?" my wife asked, and being a fellow who knows that compliance with reasonable requests is essential for marital maintenance, I said, "Of course! Get right on that."
So what happens? I come home from watching the Vikings at a friend's house, and the items are piled in the middle of the garage where my car would go.
Granted, the original request to dispose of the items was made in 2006, but really.
So, off to the Hennepin County Waste Disposal Center, where you drive in and unburden yourself of stereo speakers, DVD players, cords and chargers, buckets of dioxin, those bones that turned out not to be saintly relics (gave that guy a low rating on eBay, let me tell you), batteries, bales of loose asbestos, whatever. They'll take it.
And they'll take it with a smile. A cheerful employee took everything out of my car and put it on a cart, and that was it. Took 10 minutes, tops. Once again, my hopes of getting a lazy, phoned-in "curmudgeonly" column out of the inefficient gummint was instantly dashed. Can't count on the DMV for that; can't count on the traffic court people, and now this. Thanks for nothing, hardworking public servants,
It made me think that there should be places like this for other things we'd like to get rid of, but can't seem to get around to, like our tendency to write sentences full of dangling prepositions. For example:
Outmoded Intellectual Viewpoints. The clerk in the booth says, "Hi, there! What are you dropping off?"
"Well, some preconceptions that have not stood the test of time, but still influence my perception of current events. Some historical analogies that no longer work. Oh, and some college-era ideas about the perfectibility of man I can't throw away because I confused ignorance with idealism."
"OK. Drive forward. Lane one or lane two."
It's nice to have a place where you can drop off toxic paints, but how about a place where you can unburden yourself of toxic relationships?
"Hi, there. What are you dropping off?
"A tiny, hot, red ball of resentment, because it seems like I've bent over backward but it's never enough, and I'm always the bad guy, you know? Am I really expected to show up at my step-niece's stepdaughter's T-ball tryouts and cheer? I texted regrets because I was out of town for a funeral, but you'd think I'd poisoned my uncle to get out of it. Then there was last Thanksgiving when she ... "
"OK. Drive forward. Any lane from one to 25." (There would be a lot of lanes because the line would move very slowly.)
Or perhaps a place where you could drop off irrational fears.
"Hi, there. Are you dropping off a crippling anxiety your rational brain rejects but your emotional core returns to like a dog licking a broken nail, or a free-floating formless concern about humanity that actually masks your own personal difficulties?"
"Uh, I don't know. I'm just constantly worried that I'll make the wrong choice, and it will affect the rest of my life."
"OK. Choose lane one or lane two."
"You're not helping!"
Anyway, thanks to the workers for taking my stuff. Wife has another list of things to go, so I'll see you around 2029.
firstname.lastname@example.org • 612-673-7858 • Twitter: @Lileks • facebook.com/james.lileks