Thursday, February 26, 2015

Reduce, Reuse, Redbox

A couple months ago, a friend came to my apartment for dinner, along with her husband and one-year-old daughter. We had a nice meal and then lounged in the living room, while the little girl toddled around.

As I don't have kids, I don't have a stockpile of toys, and I also don't have anything baby-proofed. But I really don't care what any visiting children play with, as long as there's no danger they'll get hurt. Read: I'm fine with broken stuff -- just don't stick anything in a light socket. Or drop one of my 5lb. free weights on your tiny foot. But that's another story.

So this little tyke, just getting her sea legs, motored around my whole place like a wobbly whirling dervish. Then she threw up on the couch. Then we laughed and her mom cleaned it up, and they left, and I went about the rest of my evening.

When I went to watch one of the DVDs I'd rented earlier in the day, it was nowhere to be found. My search of the apartment turned up only a couple of the kid's toys she'd forgotten. Figuring the movie had gotten mixed up in toddler stuff, I assumed it was probably mistakenly hitching a ride home with my friends.

I texted them, saying they could feel free to watch and return it after they unpacked. My friend immediately replied, "Check your recycling."

I wandered into the kitchen, where I keep a brown paper bag on the floor. Sure enough, crammed in between flattened boxes and soup cans was the DVD. I'm not sure if the little girl deposited it there on accident or as a judgment on the quality of the film, but I do know this: Parents are amazing.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


I worked at a drugstore in my hometown for about 10 years -- after school and on the weekends while I was a teenager, and every summer during college. I did everything from cleaning and restocking to delivering prescription medications, but mainly I worked the till.

This could get slightly boring on your average Thursday night, and we invented myriad ways to keep ourselves entertained. I won't go into detail, but suffice it to say I lost several "who has the lowest blood pressure" competitions and know exactly how much my arm weighs according to the Russell Stover bulk candy scale.

One day, when I "had time to lean, so I had time to clean," I found a small action figure, maybe three inches tall, on the floor. It was a little plastic man wearing a shirt, jeans, and a turban. Since we didn't have an official lost and found, I set him on a shelf behind the front counter. Weeks passed with no claim. I named him Raoul.

At some point, on a particularly dead evening, one of my coworkers and I decided to have some fun with Raoul and the key-making machine. I think we sawed his arm off. I'm not proud of it, but that's what happened. Then my coworker suggested we glue a pin back on him. That also happened. I wore him to the company Christmas party that year on my lapel as my date.

Several more weeks passed, and Raoul became a fixture of sorts at the service counter. Until a little boy pointed up and cried, "Hey! That's mine!"

No kidding. After verifying that it was, indeed, his long-lost toy, I reluctantly handed it over.

"Here you go. His name's Raoul now," I said, awkwardly. "He's missing an arm. Sorry about that."

The kid frowned but took him anyway. As he exited the store, I remembered something critical.

"Oh! He's a . . . pin now!" I yelled after him. "So . . . be careful with that, I guess!"

And that's the story of Raoul, who came into my life for a brief but meaningful time, suffered some indignities due to teenage boredom, and then likely went on to injure an innocent child. So it goes.