Sunday, September 12, 2010

Confessions, Part 2...The Garbage Locker

I do not litter.  I am a person of my word, and when I signed President Clinton's Anti-Littering Campaign Proclamation in the 6th grade, I took it to heart.  I would never litter.  Ever.  I put my signature to it.  And besides, who wants to let down a president?  Certainly not me.  So, I want to start this story by saying that I don't look upon this as littering, rather improvising a trash receptacle. 

The halls of my high school were shaped like a giant U.  In order to get to our after lunch classes, my friends and I would exit the cafeteria, walk down the hall, across the connector hall, and then down the other side.  This was just the perfect amount of time to finish a can of Hawaiian Punch or polish off a bag of gummy dinosaurs.  The only problem was that when you got to the end of the hall on the other side there was not a trashcan to be found. And you were left with the dilemma of what to do with your leftover lunch garbage.  Now, as a result of my signature on the aforementioned proclamation there was just no way that I could throw this trash on the ground like some kind of errant citizen.

I had to improvise.

This was a low traffic area of the hallway, and of the school in general.  Located in the back corner of the basement, the only things around are the Home Ec classroom and a few rows of unused lockers.  Lockers that no one in a million years would ever look in.  Lockers that were the perfect size for harboring unwanted lunch trash.

And the garbage locker was born.  We chose a random locker in the middle of the row (an end locker would have been too obvious) and would drop our cans and wrappers in before heading up the staircase to class.  It was the perfect solution.

That is, until I ruined it.

One of my favorite lunches in the school cafeteria was the taco salad.  The only thing that I didn't like about this dish was the fact that the meat was scooped out in one of those giant ice cream scoops, and, staying molded into a ball, it would form a sort of rind made of congealed grease and taco seasoning.  It was completely inedible, so I usually ordered it sans meat.  Except for this particular day.  I don't recall what made me forget to special order my taco salad or how I didn't have time to finish it before the end of lunch, but I found myself eating the remainder of the taco salad as I walked down the hall to class. 

When I got to the garbage locker, I debated for a few seconds, but ultimately threw the plate in--lettuce, cheese, meat, and all.

Within a few days it was clear that I had made a grave mistake.  Hordes of gnats began swarming in and around the locker, and an unpleasant smell began to emanate from the vents.  We began to back off the locker for fear of being caught, and also because it had turned just plain nasty inside.

And then one day, we found the locker cleaned out.  All traces of rotted taco salads had vanished and we knew that we were potentially on the verge of being outed as the creators of the garbage locker.  One evening we were in the school decorating for Homecoming when one of my friends thought it would be funny to write a letter to the principal stating that I had thrown the taco salad into the locker.  As he was pretending to slip it under the door to the principal's office, I charged at him like a crazed rhinoceros, screaming "Nooooooooo!"  at the top of my lungs.  Unfortunately, the wind that ensued from my onslaught sent the paper sailing right under the door and landing squarely on the floor for the principal to find in the morning.

We immediately set into panic mode.  I frantically asked whether putrid taco salads were grounds for suspension, while my friend expressed fears of handwriting experts being called in and linking him to the crime.  We could not be implicated in this.  We just couldn't!

Thankfully, the night janitor was the kind of person who would believe just about anything he was told, and so with a little luck and a lot of charm, we fed him a story that resulted in him unlocking the office door, with virtually no questions asked.  Needless to say, we promptly destroyed the note and vowed never to speak of the garbage locker again.  But now, years later, I feel compelled to warn you all that taco salad meat does not keep well in enclosed, non-refrigerated areas.  So please, do not try that at home.

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