I sat in Walgreen’s parking lot the other morning watching an empty water bottle try to escape. The reason for it being there in the first place was unknown to me. Undoubtedly, some person had carelessly tossed the thing aside.
Cars and trucks were lined up in the pharmacy drive-thru and progress was slow. My radio was on, thus soothing music made things quite relaxing while waiting. A warm desert breeze enabled this bottle to quickly scurry across hot asphalt, yet it could never take flight and leave. A curb always seemed to get in its way. I knew how that felt, having five metal obstacles in front of me mounted on rubber tires.
For a good ten minutes this bottle danced around with no particular place to go. Several vehicles missed hitting it on their way out. The plastic container slowly rolled past a store employee pushing a cart, but the fellow seemed fixated on his own thoughts and never looked down
Finally getting my meds and starting to exit the place, I spotted the bottle lodged against a brick wall. That would be its permanent home until a sweeper came by and sucked it up. From there, it’d go to the city dump with other trash.
Turning around, I drove close to the container then walked over and grabbed it. Unceremoniously, I tossed it on the passenger side floorboard. It seemed like the responsible thing to do. The container had no name as its label was missing.
Once I arrived home, I had two choices on where to stick it: the garbage bin or recycling. I’m not a philosophical kind of guy, and the choice made was not symbolic on my part. I chose recycling just because plastics are supposed to go there. I knew that bottle would someday be turned into another useful entity, perhaps a plastic syringe used to help save a life.
Later that day, I thought back to my uncharacteristic gesture and sensed something even deeper. People that we come in contact with on a daily basis are much like that bottle. Some are trying to escape an unfortunate situation without being able to do so.
Sometimes, all it takes to set them free is a simple helping hand. We can play a part in making sure their lives go to recycling, rather than to trash.