Friday, May 22, 2009

Napkins and Tiger's Blood

I've been teaching English at a K-12 charter school for two years now (minus the four months I was away after having Amy). I have fabulous co-workers, and their fabulousness has led to a monthly group lunch. A few months ago, at one of those lunches, I had a slightly mortifying experience that I imagine no one but me even cares about. However, it had interesting ramifications in my life, so here we go.

It was spring, I was in the biology lab, and my favorite of all favorite foods (and I am glutton, so there are a lot of "favorites" to compete with) was sitting in front of me: a Chipotle burrito.

It was delicious, of course, and perhaps my life lesson was all the more poignant because it was indirectly caused by something I love so much. Anyway, we had all finished eating and talking, and the grand clean-up was underway. Tin foil, bags, and soda cups were quickly swept into the trash. When we were "finished," however, a neat stack of five or six authentic Chipotle napkins remained in the middle of one of the lab tables. I, being the neat freak that I am, was irritated. Why was no one getting rid of those? At first I thought that maybe someone wanted them. I waited a few seconds and looked around at my colleagues, but no one made a move for them, so I snatched them up and headed for the trash.

Suddenly the voice of one of my co-workers filled my ears: "ARE YOU CRAZY?!?!?" I have since realized that the volume of the question was amplified by my smarting conscience, but at that moment I felt very, very small. Immediately I knew that it was my napkin-wasting that had triggered the outburst. I hurriedly threw them back on the table and shamefully retreated to my can of root beer and began guzzling it down, hoping no one was looking at me. As I drank/chugged, a discussion of the amazingness of Chipotle napkins broke out among my colleagues--obviously no one in his/her right mind would throw them away. I felt better and better, obviously.

This incident, unfortunately, is representative of my wasteful attitude in general. I would recycle, if someone gave me a recycle bin and picked it up for me. I would plant trees, if someone asked me to come down to the nearest park and help them with it. I would, I would, I would. But I usually don't. I have a very bad habit of not caring enough to actually initiate world change, though I often profess that world change is precisely what my life is all about. However, I am pleased to announce that the napkin fiasco did make a small improvement in my character.

Since that day, whenever I have extra napkins after eating a fast food meal, instead of tossing them (regardless of quality), I store them in my purse and wait for them to be useful. I've never had to wait long. I'm so clumsy that messes are a dime a dozen. I'll share my favorite example.

About a month after I had begun packratting napkins, Brett and I (and Amy, of course) went to the Sonoran Snowball stand for end-of-the-day snow cones. I was incredibly excited because I love snow cones (another "favorite"), especially the tiger's blood ones. Well, I stayed in the backseat of the car with Amy while Brett made the purchase. He returned with the masterpiece:

(Note: As will become obvious, this is not the snow cone from the story, but it is a tiger's blood snow cone from Sonoran Snowballs that agreed to serve as a model.)

No sooner had Brett handed me my snow cone and returned to driver's seat when SLOP! Down went my snow cone. It fell all over my lap, and, most unfortunately, all over my baby. There is nothing like a shrieking baby to send one into crisis mode, and as I frantically attempted to clean up the frozen pseudo-liquid, I started to lose it. But then, when my frustration was at its peak, I suddenly remembered my secret stash. The napkins! Triumphantly I asked Brett for my purse, and I soon managed to exchange chaos for a pile of tiger's blood-soaked napkins.

I realize that this experience doesn't exactly count as saving the world, since I could have used a blanket or something washable instead of disposable napkins (which I did indeed dispose of), but for me it's a start. I'm proud to announce that I'm even getting better at predicting the number of napkins I'll need (three at Guero Canelo, two at Sonic, two at Chipotle, etc.). At present, unfortunately, I'm still too messy to get by with just one at any restaurant but Subway, but maybe my sloppiness/clumsiness will be the next flaw I tackle. I'm sure the world would greatly benefit from that!