Always leave it cleaner than you found it

This statement meant many things to my dad. As a young family, he frequently took us camping, all over southern California and northern Mexico. On every trip we always spent some time picking up trash. It always felt good to make sure that we were adding to the camping experience of campers coming after us.

It also had larger meanings to him. We recycled extensively. When I had my paper routes in the 1950’s I made certain that my customers knew that if they would leave their newspapers out for me, I would take them away and recycle them. Our church was always collecting newspaper and cardboard as fundraisers and our family kept them busy. We also collected soda bottles for recycling. This was before they were made out of plastic and aluminum, they were glass or steel.

As you know, I live in rural California near Yosemite. Our little city has a population of less than 5,000. Our county has less than 35,000 population. Occasionally someone from one of the large cities west of us will visit us and try to make us feel bad for not being more like them. Recently, a woman came to look at an apartment I was showing for rent. In her most knowing voice she told me that she was horrified that when she came up for a visit a couple of years earlier, our county hadn’t started a mandatory recycle program yet. She stated that her city had done that several years earlier, so she was glad that our [backward] county had finally caught up with her [forward thinking] city.

I told her that our county had closed our dump more than 15 years ago and opened a transfer station. That means that everything that goes into the trash cans goes to the transfer station to be sorted, recycled and composted. So, everything that goes into a trash can in her city goes into the dump and everything that goes into a trash can in our county is recycled. She said that she had heard that and that the people who worked in the transfer station had to wear hazmat suits because it was so dangerous. I didn’t ask her why she thought that was a bad thing, some people just need something external that they have no control over to give them validation.

Pam, my wife, keeps telling me that I need to stop baiting them like that because when I do that we lose a prospective tenant. I know she’s right, I guess I can’t help myself.


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