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Every job has merit — and power

Janet Combs

I have weekend work clothes that I reserve for projects such as plumbing, painting and caulking. These otherwise-presentable garments move from the wear-in-public category to the weekend-chore category easily: an unexpected rip in a seam, a salad dressing drip that wasn’t laundered fast enough, and—most frequently — via constellations of bleach spots resulting from believing I can clean a bathroom without changing into old clothes first. It is a shame that speckled garments are not in vogue, because I could parade down a runway in dramatic ensembles by Christian DiClorox, Oscar de Lime-Away and Calvin Comet.

Regrettably, I had to move one of my favorite neon-green casual tee shirts — which was perfect for making me stand out visually to cars, golf carts, and spy satellites while riding my beach bike throughout our neighborhood—into the weekend workwear drawer. Evidently, it got buckshot with bleach during my last cleaning frenzy.

I wore it yesterday when my husband and I demolished our brick fireplace. It’s not that we don’t like brick, or fireplaces for that matter—but we discovered a terrible chimney leak that predates the purchase of our fixer-upper—one that was not resolved by a new roof, chimney cap, or replacement boards halfway up the chimney itself. The power of water where it’s not supposed to be cannot be underestimated, which is a passive way of saying, “What a holy mess!” Surely this will be the topic of a future column, but right now it’s not super-humorous.

My husband wielded the sledgehammer while I transported buckets of brick and mortar into the bed of our pickup truck. All while wearing my lucky neon-green shirt. I have re-inserted this reference into this paragraph in case some of you readers are not following my train of thought. What in the word does this tee shirt have to do with making endless trips down the front porch steps to empty bins of bricks into a truck? Read on, ye faithful Planet Janet readers!

Exhausted, we drove to our local recycle center to dispose of our truckload of bricks in the proper bulk waste category. I got out of the truck while my husband pulled up to the container.

A man in another truck opened his window and yelled to me, “Hey, where’s scrap metal?” I pointed to the far corner of the recycle center.

“Thanks!” he shouted.

“No problem,” I said.

I started to walk around the container to the area where my husband was parked, when a woman walked up to me and asked me where yard waste belonged. I gesticulated to the proper bin. Two more citizens then approached me with questions about mixed paper and sorting glass bottles, which I politely answered, as I am a frequent visitor to my area’s convenience center and know the layout and regulations.

Suddenly, it occurred to me that people thought I was a recycling attendant! Was it my neon-green shirt? No doubt it was that—along with my unmistakable air of authority.

I jumped into our truck bed and unloaded bricks with my husband, then told him I’d meet him over at cardboard recycling.

My husband told me that as he was pulling away, a woman in front of him tried to hurl a bag into the bulk waste bin, and missed. She just got in her car and drove off! I guess emptying her own trash was beneath her. I wished I could have witnessed it, as I would have had no problem confronting her. Especially since I worked there! Sort of.

Ironically, I do work for our county, and I would have been the one to take that citizen’s call of complaint, describing me as a rude recycling attendant. She would want assurance that disciplinary action would be taken. Instead, I’ve written her up, in this column!

Every job has merit, and power. I’ll always keep my neon-green shirt handy, for my alternate identity as freelance recycling attendant.

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Reach Nick Masuda at 843-607-0912. Follow him on Twitter at @nickmasudaphoto. 

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