Thursday, October 27, 2005

...Want Not.

Here’s my helpful hint for the day:

Should you need to rent a car, do not wait until mid-afternoon to get to the car rental place, as you will end up driving whatever is left on the lot. I am currently driving a bright-blue pickup truck. And I am annoyed.

Am I annoyed because my car is in the shop for the third time this year for a noise it categorically refuses to make in front of the repairman? No.

[Well, yes, that does annoy me but not in a way that applies to this subject.]

Am I annoyed because I don’t feel comfortable using the “compact only” spaces in a parking lot, which leaves me parking so far from the store’s entrance I might as well have parked at home?...No, this doesn’t annoy me.

[But I will point out that the drivers of the Ford Gargantua and the Humvee Hellbox III crammed into the bicycle rack right next to the handicapped spot don’t seem to have the same social squeamishness I do.]

Am I annoyed because I appear to be driving a three-ton glittery Easter egg with towing capacity?

[No, but I am self-conscious.]

What really annoys me about this is …It’s a waste of a truck!

I don’t know anyone who currently needs to move large boxes, bedroom furniture or a family of Borzois. I am bombing around town with sixty square feet of bare flatbed space going begging. My loathing for waste is so profound I am tempted to hang around Sears and befriend someone shopping for a refrigerator but I suspect my generous overture might be taken the wrong way.

I am completely lunatic on the subject of not wasting things, and I have no idea why. I wasn’t raised during a time of war or food rationing. My family never had to make a pound of government-issued cheese sustain six people for a month. But there is some diseased portion of my brain which views anything I throw away, let drain down the sink or can’t recycle as an example of Quinn Not Trying Hard Enough.

In case you’re thinking…”But not being wasteful is a good thing! Quinn is just trying to make everyone admire her while appearing to make fun of herself, the stinking hypocrite! We need to run her out of Blogville! Break out the pitchforks! Light the torches!”..., let me clarify what Fear of Waste means to me on a day-to-day level.

1. A few nights ago, I was tidying up the kitchen and happened to notice the remains of a roasted chicken Consort brought home for dinner. It had been picked as neatly clean to the bone as if we had a pet hyena -- except for a small hanging bit of something which might have been meat. I spent the next few minutes surgically excising the substance, about a tablespoon’s worth, and putting in a teeny little container that must have been part of a dollhouse Tupperware set. The next two days were spent trying to convince Consort that a thimbleful of rapidly-graying gristle made a nice snack. He thought I was collecting cuticle scrapings for a science project.

2. My Book Club met at a coffee shop. We discussed matters great and small but mostly we discussed how everyone but me loathed the book choice I made this month. As we disbanded, I carefully scooped all of our paper goods into a plastic bag and took them home to recycle. As I left, I spotted a woman camped out on the bus stop. She wore rags of varying filth covering nearly all the important bits of her body and was discussing Supreme Court appointments with a stuffed bird she had tucked in her cleavage. I noticed she and I were both carrying used plastic bags filled with dirty paper products. Mine was bigger.

3. If I am ever in a coma, and there is no reasonable hope for consciousness, I have one request: Please ask Consort to brush his teeth while running the tap. Not only will I snap to full wakefulness, I will do it shouting, “Will you never acknowledge that we live in a DESERT! Okay, fine. We live in chaparral! But the water issue remains the same. I think you do this just to hurt me…”

4. I have a pair of red athletic socks. I have no idea why I have a pair of red athletic socks. They are unbearably ugly and couldn’t draw any more attention to themselves if they caught fire. Nevertheless, I wear them to the gym at least once a week, because if I didn’t, that would be a waste of a perfectly adequate pair of socks. Four days - grayish-white socks; one day - John Philip Sousa accompanies my ankles. I have actually window-shopped for athletic socks and thought, “No! No new socks until I wear out those red ones, because that would be wasteful.” Right now, I fear I shall be buried in them, possibly holding a piece of chicken gristle in my clenched fist.

I try to look on the bright side. I don’t gamble. I don’t smoke. A glass of wine sends me into a stupor. I lead a mundane, if upright, existence. I’m on the PTA, for Heaven’s sake. So, if transporting trash home and carefully saving inedible fowl bits in Tupperware test tubes makes me feel as if I have accomplished something, who gets hurt?

Maybe tomorrow, we can put our stove in the back of the rent-a-truck and take it for a ride around the block.

I think it would like that.

12 Comments:

Blogger Mel said...

But . . . but . . . what was the book choice? I must know.

11:09 PM  
Anonymous Sage Tyrtle said...

I was never so happy as I was to move into an apartment building that provides paper recycling. I'm the opposite of a pack rat in every respect, except paper. 99% of the mess in our house is made up of giant piles of paper that we didn't know what to do with at the time. (As a teenager, my closet was filled with nothing but paper.) Even now, I have to sit down with my husband and put the paper in four piles: keep, use for the printer (one side blank), use for the kid's crafts (one side mostly blank), or recycle (both sides completely covered) and I STILL feel guilty taking anything down to the recycling room.

4:33 AM  
Blogger Quinn Cummings said...

Mel,

It was "Behind the Scenes at the Museum". I was deeply unpopular this month in book club.

6:34 AM  
Blogger Eryngium said...

I'm an avid composter, and I routinely bring home huge bags of newspaper, dead coffee grounds from Starbucks, and scrounged leaves. Co-workers bring me banana peels and dead flowers. I have been known to ask my hairstylist for bags of clippings (very high in nitrogen!) and to bring a 5-gallon bucket for the Jamba Juice guys to fill with rinds and pulp. Recently I hooked up with a guinea-pig owner who gives me her cage cleanings once a week. I can hardly wait for the smashed jack-o-lanterns to start arriving!

"Expired medicines? Wire coat hangers? I'd better get this stuff inside!" --Homer Simpson

10:21 AM  
Anonymous Kate said...

I love Behind the Scenes at the Museum! Perhaps it's a good thing I've never joined a book club.

2:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Behind the Scenes at the Museum" is one of my favorite books. I can't understanding anyone loathing it. What were the objections?
--Mary

11:08 AM  
Blogger Quinn Cummings said...

There were some objections to the footnotes (which I will admit are plentiful and lengthy).

Mostly, though, the book just didn't appeal, which is the humbling and heartening thing about a bookclub; it's entirely too easy to start thinking "Wow, all reasonable people believe just as I do!".

11:55 AM  
Anonymous rebecca said...

A friend of mine recently had to rent a car at the end of the day and got the OPTION of what I call a "bitchin' truck"...the kind with the extra cab and small doors. Due to my enlarged eyes, and gleeful pleading, she took the truck. I got to drive it off the Enterprise lot for her (long story) and was so envious that she got to drive that thing around for a day. I mean, I'd never BUY one of those gas-guzzlers, but it was sure fun to cruise around Eagle Rock, even briefly, in it.

And, has Ursula stayed put in her new home? I was worried when the new folks didn't want a play date up front to make sure the dogs would all get along...

7:51 AM  
Blogger Quinn Cummings said...

Thank you for asking, Rebecca. So far, so-so. That is, the middle dog hates her, but the older dog has taken Ursula under her arthritic wing. The family is so in love with Ursula that they are putting both of the younger dogs in training together. I keep thinking of it as dog marriage counseling ("And when Ursula barks at you, how does that make you feel?"). Best of all, Ursula found a best friend next door, and they played in the mud together.

And they know I will take her back any time, if they can't make it work. If she comes back, she's with me for good; I can't put her through any more change.

8:24 AM  
Anonymous Steve said...

Actually, Quinn, the end-of-the-day theory isn't all true. Allow me to relate a first-thing-in-the-morning story: I had a reservation for a compact car to be picked up at a specific time. It was shortly after the agency opened in the morning. I arrived; There's no car there for me. It won't be there any time soon, they tell me. I explained to the agent that I had a "confirmed reservation". He said I could take the ONLY vehicle on the lot, which was an old, very ugly, and open-to-the-elements Jeep. I HATED it at first sight. I told the agent, nicely, that I wanted him to call another agency in their chain and have them send a car over. He told me my choices were to take the Jeep or f**k off. Needless to say, I did not rent from them, and never will. But these things can happen in the morning, too.

11:19 PM  
Anonymous rebecca said...

Me again. I'm just wondering who the family will be training with....



Those years I spent involved with Therapy Dogs International (and with rescuing dogs, and doing second chance work at Pasadena Humane) make me a sucker for a dog story....

7:30 AM  
Blogger Quinn Cummings said...

Update-she's probably coming back to me.

Sigh.

3:04 PM  

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