Pay attention. I am not kidding. Really.

Tag: recycling

Odd #11: Recycling can lead to all sorts of entrepreneurial ventures.

photo of basket filled with paper to be recycled

Recycling paper (or anything) is an OLD idea.

Warning: if you have an entrepreneurial spirit, get ready to recognize that you, too, are ODD. But then, you may already know that deep down inside and simply have been indulging in denial as you’ve read about all my oddities and said to yourself “thank goodness I’m not like her!”

But, as I’ll keep saying, the oddest amongst us can learn and pass on pay-attention lessons that are of value even to the not-so-odd. This blog post gives you more than your money’s worth in pay-attention lessons, FYI.

Every summer before The Best-Ever Christmas, Mother would shoo me outside to get “some fresh air and sunshine” (her favorite cheerleading topics). Personally, I thought fresh air was overvalued. She, however, was convinced that fresh air and sunshine would be good for her bookworm daughter.

I intuitively figured she was wrong, wrong, wrong. Remember the melanin-deficiency thing? Even though I didn’t understand why, I knew the sun sapped my energy and made me want to take a nap. A nap! Ick. Anything was preferable to taking a nap in the middle of the day, especially at my grown-up age. I was so beyond the whole nappy thing.

Being infinitely more in touch with my body than she, my fiendishly clever strategy was to quietly dawdle in my room. Eventually, though, she’d work out that I was still in the house and forcibly shoo me outdoors. In her frustration, she sometimes resorted – depending on how long I’d been inside resisting her commands – to latching the screen doors behind me. (Did this ever happen to you? See? More oddity.)

The summer after The Best-Ever Christmas, when Mother started her cheerleading, I was ready for my enforced prescription of fresh-air-and-sunshine. Yessirr. I marched pertly past her without so much as a whimper with my attaché (cleverly disguised as my red-and-yellow-plaid book bag) and an old blanket tucked under my arm. Taking a sharp left, I headed for my favorite shady spot in the yard.

Mother, bless her soul, was left at the door – trout-mouthed – as I purposefully marched out like the woman on a mission that I was. Pay attention: here’s proof she was bumfuzzled. She forgot to latch the screen door behind me.

Spiraea Bush & Associates

Settling myself in the shade of an ancient spiraea bush in a comfy little corner made by the house walls, I spread the old blanket. (Even my nine-year-old, very odd mind sensed that asking clients to sit on bare dirt smacked of the worst sort of unprofessionalism.) Opening my “attache,” I began organizing my piles of catalogs, magazines, papers, envelopes and, of course, the stack of precious carbon paper – all valuable resources my profligate father had been tossing into the wastebasket by his desk.

With my Spiraea Bush & Associates “office” shaded from the sun’s sapping rays and everything duly appointed, I was ready for business. And just in the nick of time, too, for my first client.

Well, not a client in the true sense of the word. More like a nosy curiosity-seeker named Mother. Mouth closed and well recovered from her trout-mouth condition, she sauntered up to Spiraea Bush & Associates, peered under the bush, and asked what I was doing.

I’ve set up an office. Do you need some secretarial work done?”

“Not that I can think of.”

A pity, as I had the play typewriter from The Best-Ever Christmas, ample carbon paper, plenty of paper with blank back sides, and could easily have produced even the longest of letters – in duplicate or even triplicate. But, no. She had no business for me.

If I was disappointed, she was even more so. It was not, as you can imagine, exactly what she’d had in mind. But hey, she knew better than to complain. You see she’d been a mite duplicitous about fresh air. I thought she meant fresh air. It turns out she really meant physical exercise. But as I was in fresh air, she reluctantly settled for that – for the time being. 

Clearly, though, my desk-type entrepreneurial efforts didn’t qualify as a healthy childhood activity in her mind. Apparently, she wanted to see some running, jumping, or skipping – all activities I found highly overrated then. Now I know I missed my chance for building bone and will be fighting osteoporosis till I die. Odd, isn’t it, how parents know what they’re doing even when they don’t know what they’re doing?

Right about now would be a good time to come clean: Spiraea Bush & Associates was short-lived, as in two days. That’s because Mother shared the enterprise with my father, who initiated a serious father-daughter talk. It seemed he wasn’t keen on the idea that the contents of his wastebasket might end up as flying bits of paper all over our little neck of the woods. Yes, entrepreneurs sometimes meet with insurmountable roadblocks from the startlingly uncreative amongst us. And that’s all I’m going to say.

Well, not quite.

Here are the pay-attention bits
from this entrepreneurial enterprise.

  • Perhaps age nine is a little early for a sedentary desk job.
  • Parents often know exactly what they’re doing, even when they appear clueless.
  • Entrepreneurs almost always have an uphill battle. Get used to it.
  • When you discover a cache of good stuff some unimaginative soul has discarded, ask yourself in what inventive ways it could be recycled. (Need ideas? Ask a kid.)

Odd #12 blog post is ready: it’s all about that seldom encountered weirdness – paper addiction. (Yes, there is such a thing.)

©2015, Teresa Bennett

red box with white text: "It’s important to know who has the best, the most, the cheapest, the best delivery time, etc. Kids look through junkyards, yard sales, ‘free’ ads and under rocks. That’s all aside from keeping a list they’ve acquired through the grapevine of those who can offer the best fish bait, fireworks, homework help and bike repairs." – Joel Brown, Addicted2Success

Need ideas? As I said, ask a kid.

Odd #10: Limited Perspective

photo of Santa hat hanging on a hat rack

A reminder of a very black day in my childhood

This topic of desks from Odd #8 and Odd #9, unlike my Best-Ever Christmas, reminds me of a very black day in my childhood.

My father’s desk was an ancient secretary from the 1700s, borrowed from Grandpa for a few years. It was quite tall, with hand-blown glass in the doors covering the top half’s bookshelves and solid wood doors covering the bottom half’s shelves. Its most wondrous feature (to my childish eyes) was the clever fall-front door in the middle which, when opened and supported by slides, became a desktop and revealed tantalizingly mysterious pigeonholes in the back.

The surface of the fall-front desktop was completely covered with inky numbers from generations of my frugal ancestors’ careful figuring. The pigeonholes were filled with my father’s desk accoutrements, like my hole punch and stapler except that he had a whole lot more. I used to tuck myself under that fall-front desktop and read a book right at his feet, absent-mindedly paying attention to his mutterings and self-talk, while he reconciled accounts and recorded crucial farm production figures.

It was during one of these cozy father-daughter experiences that I discovered the wealth being tossed into his wastebasket by my very own father. I was disappointed. Oh, let’s be honest: it went way beyond disappointment. I was shocked. Such heavy, high-quality paper being thrown away – with one side completely blank!

Mrs. Logan

By this time I’d just finished second grade, with fearsome Mrs. Logan at the helm – not someone I cared to cross. While Mrs. Logan was not only downright scary, even worse in my humble opinion was the fact that she was decidedly lacking in her knowledge of fashion and hair design. But I’ll say this for the old bat: she was stupendously ahead of her time in one arena.

By the end of the school term, she had whipped us all into shape when it came to PAPER. Few things could arouse her wrath more quickly than tossing a homework sheet with only one side used into the trash. Decades before the term recycling took on its current, politically correct meaning, she had drilled into my developing brain that one should NEVER place a piece of paper in the trash until BOTH sides were covered with #2 pencil smudgings. NEVER.

Though I didn’t much like her, I certainly did respect Mrs. Logan. And now here was someone I respected, liked, and loved showing an appalling lack of conservation.

It got worse, the deeper I dug. Everyone knows an envelope is way more expensive than a sheet of paper, and my father was throwing away tons of them. (Never mind that they were all self-addressed to unknown-to-me corporations.)

It got even worse.

Well, let me tell you I won’t soon forget The Black Day I found the carbon paper! Think Norman Rockwell’s gangly, wide-eyed boy with a Santa costume dangling from his hands in front of his parents’ open bureau drawer. Yes. THAT kind of astonishment. Even as an nine-year-old, I knew carbon paper was something special. I knew because you couldn’t just saunter into any old Woolworth’s Five & Dime and buy wads of it. I had, after all, accompanied my father to the stationery store solely to buy crisp, thin packets of carbon paper.

But what really hurt was that MY father – the one with frugal Scottish blood running thick and deep in his veins – was wantonly throwing it away. Even if it was just a sheet or two here and there from government forms, the ramifications were still staggering. Each precious sheet had only a few markings on it from whatever form it must’ve accompanied. That left plenty of carbon-y real estate for anyone writing something important enough that it needed to be repeated in duplicate, as I no doubt would be.

The Pay-Attention Bit

Truth is a funny thing. We think we want to know it, but sometimes what we accept as truth comes with itchy and uncomfortable revelations, à la my father’s disturbing penchant for throwing away perfectly good stationery – with both hands.

I truly was wounded when I discovered a seeming contradiction between my father’s values and his behavior. Of course, “seeming” is the operative word here, isn’t it? As a freshly minted nine-year-old, I didn’t know about some things (ID concerns and privacy) and why stuffing discarded mail in one’s own trash was the safest route to follow. (At least it was back then. Now, not so much.) 

I didn’t have all the facts. And isn’t that usually the case? Most of us are playing with less than a full hand when it comes to knowing why those around us behave as they do. They may, like my father, have perfectly rational reasons for their behavior. We just don’t happen to know what they are.

While I believe the Bible is inspired truth, I also believe that what we as mere men and women surmise to be Truth is very often overly influenced by our limited perspective.

Disclaimer: this is a pay-attention lesson I hope to learn by the time I die, because it’s looking more and more doubtful that it’ll happen much before then. I’m way past nine, but I’m still jumping to conclusions. Some of us are just slow learners. But some of us are just plain stubborn, hanging onto old habits when we know better. (I’ll leave it to you to decide into which category I fall.)

The oven timer just rang for Odd #11. In it, you’ll learn how a nine-year-old business prodigy started an entire corporation with the refuse “wantonly” and “carelessly” tossed out by someone not quite so creative.

©2014, Teresa Bennett

red box with white text: "Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth." – Marcus Aurelius

My nine-year old perspective was wonky.

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