Clearly the best way to handle this Charlotte recycling bumfuzzle is Monty Python-style:
We need to create jobs, right? Just hire a guy in every neighborhood to walk the streets with a bullhorn. Bring out your recycling! Bring out your recycling! All plastic bottles except #6! No pizza boxes!
It might not be the most efficient idea. But the current plan isn't working so hot.
We're three days into the city's new recycling program, and apparently for some of us it's harder than Final Jeopardy. More than 1,200 people called the city with questions on Monday alone. People are putting out their bins on the wrong day, in the wrong week, with the wrong stuff inside.
This is despite the city attaching instructions to the new bins, sending out at least three notices in the mail, putting the information online, and discussing it at 200 community events.
There are several possible reasons we're still confused:
- It turns out people throw away ALL their mail, not just the bills.
- Nobody pays attention to public service announcements about the importance of blah blah blah.
- Maybe some folks are going by Mayan calendars.
- Collectively, we're as dumb as a sack of hammers.
We're not stupid, we're overwhelmed.
Think about all the mental debris you tote around -- logins and passwords to computers and websites, PIN numbers to credit cards and debit cards and ATM cards, the schedule for the kids' ball games and dance lessons, what hours the library's open (hint: not as many hours as it used to be), the faces and names of all those people you see only at the grocery store or the barbershop or at church on Easter. Plus all that long division and high-school Spanish trying not to get sucked down the memory hole.
Not only that, every little device is its own galaxy of choices. I'm pretty sure my cell phone could launch a nuclear sub if I had the right app. The other day I toured a hangar that housed some vintage airplanes. The cockpits didn't look all that more complicated than a universal remote. And pilots don't have to worry about programming the DVR.
In our complicated lives, we need some things to be simple. In Charlotte, garbage and recycling were simple. You rolled out the garbage can and set out the recycling bin on the same day every week. You didn't even have to think about it -- your body did the work on autopilot.
Now there's a new recycling bin, and pickup for that is every OTHER week, even though garbage is still every week, although for most people it's now on a different DAY, and to get it all straight you have to figure out whether you live in the Green Zone or the Orange Zone.
That's not complicated, in and of itself. But piled on top of all the other numbers and maps and codes, it makes us crazy.
In the end, of course, we'll figure it out -- we'll clear out a little corner of our brains (bye-bye, Spanish!) to make room for the new schedule. We're also recycling more stuff, which is good for the planet, so we've got that going for us, which is nice.
But next time, before anybody else rolls out something else to complicate our lives, do us a favor. Spring for the bullhorns.