where the writers are
Getting rid of toxic waste

For years my parents deferred maintenance, even though the stockpile of garden chemicals and old paint cans at their house suggested otherwise. I go to pick this stuff up last Saturday. My now-adult son shows up to help me, sleepily at noon, still wearing his pajama bottoms. I'm in a hurry, because the drop-off place closes -- ridiculously-- at one p.m. on Saturdays.

To my horror, there aren’t just a few cartons of this stuff, but about a dozen rain-soaked flimsy cardboard boxes with all kinds of crap in them. Jars, cans, boxes of dust and ooze and foul looking liquids. Plus some more loose material, so we have to scrounge for more cardboard boxes. Time is getting tight, and I'm now running up and down the driveway, and we're both loading the boxes into the bed of my pickup as quick as we can. One of the boxes is drizzling a brown liquid, which spills onto my leg.

"Don’t get any of that on ya," my now-adult son advises.

We get all the boxes in, I set the GPS for the toxic dump address and hope traffic isn’t all backed up on the freeway just yet. Then, buzzing down the freeway I have the slider window open behind me and dully realize it's sucking toxic air into the cab right off the truck bed. I slide it closed.

The GPS tells me the toxic place is downtown, like right downtown. Like in the business district. No. Seventh Street, Seventh Avenue, East Seventh Street, it's all confused the GPS, but I know better. I've been to the toxic dump before. A long time ago. I find the exit, drive past the entrance twice before I recognize it, in a blind panic now. Got to get rid of this stuff. Pull the truck in, relieved they haven’t pulled the gate closed yet. Finally, the decades old nasty stuff is going away. Now. Finally.

No, wait. Wait, wait. There's a weight limit. They don’t actually weight anything, just remove about half of the material and tell me "There's a 125 lb. weight limit per visit, sir."

Sir then thinks perhaps he can drive out the gate, then back in again. Sir realizes this ruse would quickly be recognized, and that another Saturday morning will be consumed with another visit to the toxic waste facility. So now my pickup sits in the driveway, cardboard boxes full of garden chemicals and old paint cans, oil cans and stuff I don’t even want to think about seeping onto in its bed.

Hilarious looking back. Not so hilarious back then.

Saturday, Sir will return to the toxic waste dump. Perhaps they will take the rest.