More German than the Germans


I opened the bathroom waste basket to retrieve the garbage bag and was appalled by the contents. The offense was so high on the list of no nos, I gasped when I saw it. I know your minds are racing through a number of possible faux pas. None of those. 

Our bathroom garbage can has two receptacles. The left for garbage and the right compartment for recycling waste made of paper and plastic.  

Poking out amongst the mascara covered cotton pads and ear wax covered cotton swabs (I know, please don’t lecture me all you wannabe ENT doctors, and actual ENT doctors too- I’ve seen the Q-Tip ads: nothing smaller than an elbow in your ear) stood a shampoo bottle.  

“Are you (insert favored profanity) kidding me!” I screamed. 

I grabbed the bottle and stomped down the stairs into the living room where my family peacefully ate breakfast. 

“Do you know what this is?” I shrieked, holding up the offensive item like a guillotine master would a severed head.

“Your shampoo bottle?” our son, always eager to help, asked.

“Yes, but would you tell me where I found it?” I seethed.

“I chucked it in the garbage,” my husband replied between spoonfuls of yogurt and Müsli.

“Exactly!” I yelled, “In the garbage! That’s where it was!” I paused to catch up to my ragged breathing.

“Was it still full?” our daughter asked, clearly wanting to gather further information before committing to a side.

“No,” I said with a sneer in my husband’s direction, “it was empty.”  

“Uh oh,” my daughter said, now understanding the severity of the situation. 

“You yelled at me last time for keeping empty bottles in the shower,” my husband blandly replied.

True. He almost had me there. 

 I continued in my rage.

“Where do empty shampoo bottles go?” I asked raising my voice and leaning towards my husband’s ear.

“In the garbage,” he said lifting his shoulders in a shrug.

The children covered their mouths in horror.

My eyes widened from the shock and I clutched my throat as if in pain.

“No! Not in the garbage! For thirteen years you’ve made me separate thin plastic, thick plastic, paper, batteries, food scraps, aluminum, green glass, brown glass, clear glass, broken electrical equipment, clothing and shoes. And YOU throw away a shampoo bottle?”  

“Papa, it goes in the white garbage can behind the kitchen door,” our daughter stated.

“Yes, Papa, in the yellow bag in the white garbage can,” our son added.

“Exactly, children. If I see this happen again, I’m taking away privileges. That means YOU,” I said to my husband.

The result of my being more German than the Germans is that nothing is thrown away. At least not immediately. Of course garbage and food scraps are pitched, we’re not gross. Papers stack on tables to be sorted and eventually thrown in the blue recycling bin. Glasses, jars and aluminum cans rest in bags on top of the crates of water and juice bottles waiting for the next trip to the canister collection stations. Let’s not forget about the yellow bags filled to the brim with plastics stored in my basement until the next recycling truck makes its monthly pick up.  

These are not the signs of a hoarder in the making.  

I’m just waiting for my next trip to the recycling center. 

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