Thursday, July 24, 2008

This Just Ain't My Bag

Yesterday, I was out of the office, feeling lousy, but still wishing to do something productive. So I starting straightening up my place, getting rid of old papers, etc., and listening to my CD of the "Eating Raoul" score for Hell In a Handbag's Summer Camp series (it's the next production in the series, opening Aug. 5, and I'm playing in the "pit orchestra" so I've been playing the CD to learn the music).

I went through the stack of junk mail sitting on my counter and, carefully looking at each item to determine what was and wasn't important, I threw away all the excess paper that wasn't useful to me. I kept the important things resting on the counter, propped against the back wall so I could see them easily.

I also scrubbed the inside of the microwave, changed the cat litter and took out the garbage. Then I did laundry.

Later that evening, as I watched my DVD of "Here's Lucy" that I'd picked up at Reckless Records in Wicker Park (when I was postering for the Joans gig on Saturday), I got this funny, prickly feeling that something wasn't right...

A few weeks ago I'd received a check from the storage company down in central IL where Mom's stuff was stored, a refund for the time paid in advance after we'd closed it up. It was for $97.00. I also had a refund from AT&T for $17.00 from when I'd switched my phone service. As if jerked by a marionette's string, I got up and went over to the counter and went through the propped-up-important-item stack.

No checks.

"Calm down," I thought to myself. "Remember you put some things down in the second drawer of the filing cabinet. They're probably in there."

I opened said drawer. No checks. (Although I did find a deck of Wizard of Oz playing cards that I'd forgotten I had.)

Now the prickly feeling became a cold sweat along my brow. What had I done with the checks?

Then I remembered all of the things that I'd thrown out with the garbage.

The sweat spread down my back. But I knew what must be done.

I grabbed my keys and headed outside to the dumpster in the alley. I opened the lid and was relieved to see that there weren't too many black garbage bags like the one I'd tossed earlier. I picked out one that was tied shut bunny-ears style. It was very light, but I thought it might be the one.

I opened it and saw loose paper, an empty wine bottle and an empty Breyer's ice cream carton. Not mine.

I picked out the next one. Much heavier and tied with red drawstrings, which I then remembered I'd bought at Target. Yes, this was mine. I couldn't open the knotted drawstrings neatly, so I tore around the top of the bag to open it.

The smell of decaying vegetable tops and cat litter assaulted my nostrils, but the thought of losing $110.00 in today's economy made that a trifling concern. I took a deep breath (with my head turned away, obviously) and plunged my hand into the bag.

I turned the contents over until I'd found every possible scrap of paper inside.




Terrific. I'd just wasted my time among--well--waste. Although I'm sure it was very entertaining for the four people who'd chosen that very five-minute time block to pass by: a prissy stick figure, walking her dog and yapping on her cell phone; a man on his bicycle (with his headlight on, which illuminated my activity very nicely, thanks a million); and a beret-wearing hipster and his Gidget-esque moll (fortunately, these two were too self-absorbed to notice anything happening around them). Nobody said anything, but then, if they had, I simply would have thrown the now-open bag of cat litter directly at them.

I closed the bag up bunny-ear style (since I'd torn away the drawstrings) and headed back into the building, gingerly holding my key in the less-soiled hand. I trudged back up to my condo, pondering what the hell could have happened to the checks as I washed my hands in very hot water and antibacterial soap.

Another feeling hit me (damn it), and I walked back over to the file cabinet. I opened the top drawer this time and looked in.

There, hidden behind an envelope from my bank, was the envelope with both checks in it.

Yes. That's correct. I had gone on a late-night adventure with my hands in the garbage (among other things) for absolutely no reason at all. And all because I didn't look in the top drawer the first time.

Oh well. That'll teach me to pay attention to prickly feelings more selectively next time (or alternately, to feel the right pricks).

Moral of the story: We all have to stick our hands in the shit sometimes. Even when it turns out not to be really necessary.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry you had to go dumpster diving for no reason. The people who passed by probably shook their collective heads and said poor guy I hope he finds somethng edible. But aren't you glad the checks were found and not smelling of garbage and kitty litter? ed

10:33 AM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Most definitely...and in retrospect, they probably had seen me before, knew I lived there and was looking for something I'd thrown away was just one of those things you never really want to do...!

1:09 PM  

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