I usually don’t post about work, because nothing interesting usually happens. Today was unusual.

One of the staff is leaving and needs to clean out his office. Because we’re a green workplace, all of the paper is disposed of via giant blue recycling bins. These lock at the top to protect confidential information, and are indeed comically stamped with CONFIDENTIAL along the side like the card sleeve in Clue. If you want one of these, you wander down a long hallway to where they are parked—parked, for they are large—test which is the least full, and drag it to your department. If no bins are available, you call housekeeping.

No bins. I call housekeeping.

The deliverymen leave at 2:00. I look at the clock: 2:18. The dispatcher promises me she will page them first thing in the morning.

This morning. I arrive, and no bin. I wait, patiently, in case nobody gets in as early I do. You might say I was giving them a chance to fulfill their duties before writing a long-winded blog post about workplace incompetence. At least, you might say that now.

Eight thirty. No bin. On my way back from the bathroom I spy a bin parked at the end of the hallway. It’s half-full, but I nab it anyway, knowing my administrator will be happy to have any means to whittle down the teeming ziggurat in his office. Also, when they arrive with the empty one, I will be able to exchange hostages.

Eight forty-one. Our Maintenance man has arrived—not with an empty bin, but with security. I feel a slight panic as the receptionist points them my way; I tell myself I’ve done nothing wrong to remind myself that I actually haven’t. The security guard, looking extremely put-upon, explains the situation: Maintenance man was going about his morning rounds and abandoned his bin, and some deviant Frank Abagnale-type had come along and stolen confidential information.

I confessed fairly easily; it was pointless to deny that I had taken a recycling bin when I, eight hours previously, had asked for a recycling bin. I explained that it had not yet been delivered, and it was my understanding that any bins at the end of the hall were free for the taking. Apparently this policy had changed. With scowls.

Upon reclamation of his bin, I politely reminded Maintenance man about my request. He sighed heavily and walked out with the security guard. Thinking he needed some time to walk off the slight, I gave him an hour before calling housekeeping. The dispatcher, a sweet lady, regretted that I had needed to call again, and said she would page him immediately. I thanked her. As I hung up, I deduced that “he” referred to the same tall, surly fellow I had irked by “stealing” his bin, and the chances of his personally delivering me an empty one were slim indeed. I would wait it out.

One thirty. Binless. Housekeeping.

The nice dispatcher knew me by now, and apologized. My tone was cheerful; I wasn’t angry—at her, or anyone. I just wanted to know how difficult it really had to be to throw paper away; it was only my guilty nature that stopped me from heaving the mountain of paper into a totally available trash bin. I asked the dispatcher if I might be able to come down and grab a bin myself and cart it upstairs. She puts me on hold, runs down the hall to check for empty bins. When she returns, she tells me there are two in the basement, and they’re all mine, and she’s sorry I have to get them myself. I say no problem, happy to have everything sorted. I wander down to the basement.

Nice dispatcher has neglected to mention that these two bins have been stacked inside one another. Two one hundred gallon bins, with wheels on the bottom and steel clasps on their four-foot lids have been stacked inside one another. I would need to be two full feet taller to prise them apart—or in fact, have stacked them this way in the first place. Interesting. And petty.

Here’s where I get annoyed.

I consider my options. I can take both bins: easiest for me, but keeps all other departments’ desire to recycle firmly in the realm of dreams. I could find some way to break them apart. I could say bugger it and spend the rest of the day on You Tube. I could take a job at Sea World. I could throw seventeen dictionaries in the bin to assuage my anger at standing in a cold basement contemplating a job change all because I wanted to save some goddamn trees.

I’ve come this far. I’m taking one of those bins. I pull them to the floor, careful not to let the lids drop onto my foot; although a trip to employee health could land me some tasty workman’s comp, I would hate to create bad press for the green movement. I employ my usual method of breaking up things like stuck laundry baskets, wet cups, and fighting cats: kick them until they separate. They pull apart with a sudden, static-y shoof. It takes all of my 5’4” of strength to pull my behemoth upright. I slam the lid shut for no other reason than my own satisfaction and board the elevator, where I run into another member of Maintenance, who congratulates me on my hands-on initiative. I add a sexual harassment suit to my workman’s comp and buy a house in my head.

Once upstairs, I lock the unwieldy bin in an office, with a note reading “when finished, please page Maintenance for removal.”


crdrue said…
This story made my morning. Those bastards!

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