My Nanny State Conversation

SwampMan came home yesterday from work quite miserable. “My throat is just so sore from talking!” he said.

I told him that I did not have that problem because I hadn’t talked. My throat was sore from coughing. Even when I renewed his prescriptions, I only had to repeat the word “yes” to the robotic overlord that runs the pharmacy. Then I said “yes” when it asked me if I wanted them automatically renewed. I do not know why SwampMan calls them in every month. I suppose he figures one day he’ll wake up and not need his arthritis medication anymore. Yep. Could happen. Just because you cannot function without it doesn’t mean that one day you will leap out of bed with your joints all healed. Maybe it’s a man thing. Or an optimist thing.

Then I recalled that I did, indeed, have a conversation. It was at our local recycling place. I need to build some raised bed gardens but, since I’m not working, the funds are notably absent.

Well. Let me rephrase that. My funds are notably absent. SwampMan says things like “Buy whatever you need. Just be careful.” I say things like “How much can I spend?” “Not much.” “DEFINE NOT MUCH IN DOLLARS!” “Well, I don’t know.” “How much is in the friggin’ BANK?” “I’m not sure….”

There are some things that I’m extremely flexible about, like the time and space continuum and my plans for next week. I see the big picture and usually don’t hone in too much on the details. I hate details. There are some things, however, that I’m really rigid about, like budgets and bank account balancing and not paying late fees or overcharge fees EVER. This is why we had separate bank accounts so that my spazzing out episodes over money would be kept to a minimum.

To accomplish my goals of raised beds, I’m looking for free materials, and what better place for free materials than the recycling center? There wasn’t a great deal of material to use there. Then I stopped and looked at their glass bottle collection, and walked around their bin checking it out. There were actually a lot of intact bottles. Hmmmmm. I could do an offset stack of, say, three bottles deep with the wide ends out and the narrow ends anchored in the soil. Or I could use ’em in concrete. I walked out to talk to the folks there.

“Can I help you?” the nice man asked.

“Yeah, I would like to use some wine bottles for raised garden beds, but I’m a nondrinker (well, aside from that unfortunate Chilean Merlot cooking wine episode last night, but we don’t really need to mention that). Can I get some of the wine bottles out of the recycling bin?”

“There’s broken glass in there!”

“Yes, I know.”

“You could get cut!”

“I was only planning on getting the unbroken bottles.”

“How many do you need?”

Geez, how many WOULD I need? If I made each bed 4 x 8, and I wanted it to be one foot minimum above the natural grade, how many would that be? I’d have to measure the width and diameter of each bottle that I wanted to use to give a good estimate. My wildass guesstimate was about 400 to start with because my lil’ empty wine bottle at home was not quite 3″ x 3″. That would require about 64 bottles for the 4′ side, and 128 bottles for the 8′ side. On the other hand, some of our residents evidentally drink wine by the gallon, so that would be less.

So I looked him in the eye, took a deep breath, and lied. “About 20.”

“You know, you would have to have the proper protective equipment to go into those bins.”

I’d already been in those bins without proper protective equipment to assess the bottle situation and yet somehow was still alive.

“Such as?”

“Proper gloves, footwear, and clothing.”

I promised that the next time he saw me, I’d have my welding gloves, apron, long-sleeved shirt, blue jeans, and work boots.

“Do I have to come to the office every time I want to pick out some bottles?”

“Yes, we’ll need to check and make sure you have the proper protective clothing…. And be careful when picking up those bottles! You don’t know WHAT diseases some of those people might have!”

I told that to SwampMan. When I got to the proper protective clothing part, he erupted in profanity. “Gawddamn Nanny State!”

“Well, I can’t say I blame him. If I faceplanted into a bunch of jagged glass, it would be his ass!”

SwampMan was so incensed over the idea of somebody telling me that I had to wear proper protective equipment into a bin full of broken glass that he never commented on my idea of using wine bottles to build my raised beds. Heh. Somehow I thought that was going to be my big hurdle.

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