Mission "Accomplished"

26 March 2006
6:15 PM

We recycle in our house. When we’re done with milk cartons, we wash them out and save them. When we empty cereal boxes, we fold them. All of this cardboard goes outside in a storage bag until we can take it to the recycling center. That is my job, and the recycling center isn’t next door—it’s in Santiago.

Since I was planning a trip to visit the associates in Santiago this weekend, I thought it would be a good time for my first recycling journey. I packed a giant garbage bag full of the old cartons and boxes. Then I walked the 20 minutes to the bus stop with my stuffed garbage sack slung over my shoulder, like a kind of urban Santa Clause. When the bus arrived, I put the bag in the underneath storage compartment.

Here intercity buses (think Greyhound) are fantastically orchestrated. There is a driver and an additional person who helps passengers with their bags, checks their tickets, asks for destinations, and reminds people when they’ve arrived at their chosen destination. It’s a good system for people who aren’t 100% sure where they’re going—like me. I told the assistant that I wanted to get off at the Lider supermarket, after Puerto Barras. He makes a note and says no problem. Perfect.

After little more than an hour on the bus, I see the sign for the Lider store where the recycling center is. I make my way towards the front of the bus, just at the same moment when the assistant stands up and waves me to the front. Things could not be going better. I get off right in front of Lider, and wait for the assistant to give me my bag from the compartment below. I’m watch the open bus door when, suddenly, the door slams shut and the bus pulls into traffic again. Stunned, I stand in front of the recycling center, recyclable-material-less.

Let’s review my responsibilities:

  1. Get the recyclable materials out of the house
  2. Take them to the recycling center

Check and … well, maybe I’ll have better luck next time. For now, my recyclable good are traveling around in the gut of a Pullman bus.