Sunday, May 1, 2011

Alien Sighting In El Cajon...And Recycling Taking Place

BREAKING NEWS: Alien spotted in Downtown El Cajon!
Before a War of the Worlds frenzy breaks out, let me assure you that while an alien was indeed spotted in El Cajon, it is made out of plastic and belongs to my son. The alien picture was taken today on our drive over to American Recycling.

It's a good thing we went today--the trunk barely closed.
Today, all the stars aligned for my family to cash in our recyclables. We had a rare day off together with no other pressing engagements, and miraculously, our trunk also happened to be clutter-free for once. Ready to head out on some shopping errands, I asked my husband if he would be game for taking in our recycling. Gauging the mountain of empty cans and bottles that had amassed in our back patio over many months, we both agreed that it was time.

We filled my husband's trunk to the max with our bags of containers and headed over to American Recycling, located on El Cajon Boulevard. I am sure that there are other worthy recycling places to try out, but this is our usual spot, and it is a popular one. I'd even wager that there aren't a whole lot of other places besides churches and coffee shops that are as busy on a Sunday before noon.

The lady next to us was busy sorting, too.
If you've never been to American Recycling, here is the drill. You park your car (or walk up, as the case may be) and then go to the area by the office to retrieve some wheeled receptacles, getting a separate bin for each type of material (e.g., aluminum cans, plastic bottles, glass bottles).

This is the office where you exchange your bins for money.
Sort your recyclables, and then wheel the bins back to the office area and wait in line. When it is your turn, one worker will weigh your various bins, and then the office worker will calculate your earnings based on the going price for each material type. You will be given a receipt to sign, and then you'll be handed cash. Once it's your turn, the whole interchange only takes a matter of minutes.

For some reason, the whole process feels like the closest I'll ever get to participating in some sort of shady, back alley operation. We just try to lay low, push our goods forward, wait quietly, take our money, and then bolt. Part of what adds to the mystique is that the workers can seem a little intimidating. This is quite easily an unfair assumption that we could someday debunk if engaging them in conversation. But, whenever we've been there, they are much too busy for idle chatting. Besides, we figure that it takes some tough-looking people to work there, because of the mixed-looking clientele that they serve.

Recyclable blocks
It's also got to be a very messy job. I feel sticky and smelly enough just sorting through our own personal drop-offs. I can't imagine handling these materials for many hours a day. These workers must go home covered with a layer of sticky grime and smelling like a mix of old soda, beer, and mildew. It is definitely not a glamourous or enviable job, but I believe it is an admirable one.

Today's earnings amounted to nearly forty dollars!
While my husband was busy taking care of business with the office, I waited in the car with our kids. I tried to explain the process of recycling to my son, but all that he could focus on were some bales of pressed containers that were stacked on top of a building. Since some of his favorite toys are Legos, perhaps these giant blocks appear from a distance to be like good candidates for play. And, who knows? Maybe someday, these bottles will end up in their next life as part of some child's building block set. Or, perhaps they will even come back as an alien!


  1. This is great! Way to cash in!!!

  2. Oh my gosh, what a delight to read your website! Of course, being laid up for the past 3 months after my first major illness, (a Grand Mall Seizure... Yikes...How did that happen?!), in my 67 year old life, and first hospital stay, ('cept for 2 beautiful babies) may have something to do with my outlook, as today is my first really good day, but I don't feel that it affected my opinion. I actually feel pretty darn together today and was looking for a place to recycle our aluminum cans and plastic bottles. I've always given them away because no one in our home seems to be willing to take the time to go cash them in, but now I am! I've always been concerned about the environment and would really like to do whatever I can to help, although sometimes it seems like such a pitance, I wonder why I bother. But I still do. Anyway, thanks for putting a smile on my face :c)
    I don't understand the "comment as:" stuff, but my name is
    Linda :c)

    1. Hi Linda! I'm glad you enjoyed reading the site. As you can imagine, life has been so hectic that I haven't been able to keep up with this. But, I just saw your comment. I hope that you have continued to recover with your health!