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06 January, 2009

Are we all destined to become less flexible in all ways?

I try to be patient. I really do. And each time I come home to visit, the patience starts at a solid high, and gradually withers until, by the final day, I am on the verge of conflict. The reason is that it seems that my father becomes more and more idiosyncratic and inflexible every single year. I just don't understand it. I just won't understand it. I don't even want to understand it. And it drives me insane.

The long-standing argument: Recycling

I come home, and I notice that the wastebasket is filled with everything. Cardboard boxes, styrofoam, paper, plastic, garbage. You name it. It's in there. 

I ask "Why don't you recycle those things?" Actually, it would be more accurate to say that I used to ask this, because I cannot even broach the topic anymore without the conflict I am about to describe ensuing at nearly the peak intensity, from having had this same argument before, multiple times.

The response to this question is: "No."

"Why not?", I ask.

"I did it for years, and finally, I decided it's enough already", he replies.

"What do you mean, 'It's enough?'", I ask.

"Listen. We don't really generate that much. And I did it for years, and I just got tired of it", he says, now becoming a bit impatient.

"But it's not like you have a term of duty for recycling, like service in the Peace Corps. You have all this stuff, and you have the time to separate it, why not recycle it?", I press.

"Alright, you've made your point. And I said, for a long time I did it. I separated everything out. And it was a nuisance. It's not worth the time and effort for the small amount we generate", he again insists. (I should note that my Dad generates virtually nothing BUT recyclables. He eats most of his meals from Lean Cuisine frozen boxes, and it's ALL recycling, so his assertion is a bit disingenuous)

"I don't understand how you can say you don't have the time. In fact, you have all of the newspapers in this amazingly neat pile, stacked in the garage all week. And then you take that neat stack, and instead of putting it in the recycling bin, you REintegrate it back into the trash. Why don't you at least recycle the newspaper? I don't see how that could possibly be MORE effort for you, since it is already separated," I reason, hoping for a compromise.

"Alright, you've made your point. And like I told you, I did it for years, and it's enough already," he replies, unflinchingly.

"So you won't even recycle the newspaper?", I plead.

"Let's drop it," he says.

This is the way that argument goes. And I try not to start it. But to watch him gleefully bundle up all the items and throw them away with zero regard, and to assert that because he doesn't generate much (which is untrue), that he doesn't need to recycle, makes me boil. The logic is so flawed. It's like saying that I don't need to vote because other people will. Or that I can throw litter out of my window because not many people do. Just ridiculous.

The other thing that drives me insane when I am home (okay, ANother thing, not THE other thing) is that my Dad likes to throw things away rather than save them. Leftovers? Must throw them away within 24 hours. I am not sure why. I don't know if it is just an organizational thing, or the desire to discard used items. Who knows. Someone pours soda from a can into a glass, and there is most of the can left. My dad will immediately spill out the remainder rather than ask if anyone wants it, or save it. Why? A slice of pizza that someone cut in half with a knife must be immediately thrown away because it wasn't a whole slice. I don't get it. These little things drive me nuts.

Add to this the fact that he enters my room without knocking, and I cannot tell you how happy I will be to get on the plane back to Seattle.

That said, being here has been really nice. And I will actually miss him, and miss home. But going back into the house where you were raised, and staying with family, is a challenge.

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