ONE CLOWN SHORT, page-25
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"Oh, good grief. It's bad enough all you men think with the tiny brain in your pants, but do
you have to talk with it too?" Violet grabbed his arm and pulled Paul off the stage. "Here, pass
out these handouts to everyone. Keep yourself busy."
"Effective tomorrow, recycling bins will be placed at various stations on every floor. There
will be eight separate bins. This is in your handout, but please pay attention." She scoured the
room with her eyes to make sure there were no snoozers.
"White is for paper. All paper MUST be recycled. No exceptions. Green is for glass, yellow
is for plastic, blue is for toner cartridges, red is for coffee cups, brown is for coffee cup sleeves,
purple is for styrofoam, and black is for napkins."
"Effective immediately, you may only use recycled paper and recycled toner cartridges
made by El Cheapo Depot. All other brands are restricted from being purchased. All paper
products from the cafeteria must be used a minimum of four times and then put in the
appropriate recycling bin. If recycled items are found in your regular trash basket, you will be
given three warnings before you are out. Out means you will be terminated. No exceptions.
Come to think of it, if we are required to recycle everything, then there won't be anything in your
trash basket, will there? Get it?"
All in the room nodded in agreement.
Cassie's hand was waving wildly in the next to last row. "How can we tell if the napkin has
been used four times or not?"
Thinking quickly on her feet, "Four smudges of lipstick. So ladies, reapply often."
Another voice in the crowd shouted out, "What if we had chicken wings for lunch? You
know they serve them every Friday in the cafeteria, don't you?"
"Same rules apply. Four wings per napkin. So if you have twelve wings, you are allotted
three napkins. Got it?"
"OK, if there are no more questions, be sure to pick up your Three Ring reusable coffee mug
on your way out. Use it often to help keep the earth green. Thanks everybody!"
After the room had emptied, she said, "That went over well, don't you think?" Violet was
looking for some positive reinforcement.
"Yeah, like a lead balloon. Use a napkin four times. That's un- sanitary." Gary was grossed
out by the whole affair.
"If the mystery person had nominated you, Gary, then you'd tell Miss Greenie how you feel
about that, wouldn't you?" "Don't think so. I'm lying low these days."
The recycling started with a vengeance. Every night at about five o'clock, a line would form
in front of the colorful bins. Each employee carefully sorted out their trash. The threat of "three
strikes and you're out" felt very real in the new Three Ring regime.
One night Mandy was working late trying to get through the mountain of paperwork on her
desk. Ever since Three Ring took over, the paperwork was four times what it used to be. Staying
until nine every night was getting old. She was taking her trash to sort at the recycle bins before
she finally went home. The janitor was there emptying the bins as she approached. He was
dumping each bin one by one into the same garbage cart.
"We spend all this time sorting this stuff for you and you have to re-sort it again when you
get downstairs. That seems like a waste of time."
The man kept dumping one bin after the other, apparently ignoring Mandy.
"Have a good evening," she said as she started to walk away.
He kept on smiling and emptying the trash. She turned back and asked, "Do you speak
He kept on smiling and nodding as he continued to do his job.
A few weeks later, during her routine review of expense invoices, something looked very
unusual to Mandy. "We are suddenly spending three times as much on office supplies as we did
a month ago. We are ordering this stuff three and four times a day. No wonder we have so many
more invoices to process. What's going on?"
She headed over to see Gary and Violet to ask if they could shed any light on the situation.
As she headed down the aisle, it seemed that the recycling bins had multiplied overnight. They
were all full to overflowing. Excess toner cartridges and coffee cups littered the floor. In her
haste, her heel caught on something in the trash heap.
She flipped over, doing a complete somersault, landing spread eagle in the aisle. Several sets
of eyes began to peer out from the adjacent cubicles.
"Well, if it isn't Mandy." It was Violet staring down at her. "I think that's my most
comfortable pose. I'm surprised to see you trying it out for a change."
"Very funny. Help me up."
"Wait a minute, Mandy." It was Gary holding out a cell phone. "It's your mother calling."
"Smart-ass. Help me up."
"To what do we own the pleasure of your visit?"
"I need to talk with you." They made their way down the hall to Violet's office. "I've been
going over our invoices, and our expenses are triple what they were last month. Office supplies
are out of sight. Paper products for the cafeteria are astronomical. We're paying El Cheapo
Depot double what we paid our other vendor. And I have more than twenty invoices to be paid
for those reusable coffee mugs, all approved by Lisa Peeples. What do we need so many of those
for if they're reusable?"
"One use of the reusable coffee mug with hot coffee in it and boom!—the bottom falls out.
Did you take a good look at the rug while you were down there? Stains all over the place. Half
of my team has been in here asking me to pay their dry cleaning bill now that it's not free
anymore. Coffee all down the front of them. All over their desks. I can't begin to tell you how
many training manuals we've had to reprint."
"I heard my name, and then I eavesdropped for a little while." Lisa Peeples had made
herself comfortable in the extra chair in Violet's office.
"Lisa, looking at these invoices, our costs have quadrupled since we started purchasing
supplies from El Cheapo Depot." Mandy exaggerated in an effort to make her point to the
dense Lisa Peeples."For example—the toner cartridges. The cost is half of what we were paying
before, but we're buying four times more than we used to."
"You should know that you can only print about two pages before having to replace the toner
cartridge. Don't you see them piled up in the bin out there?" Gary was trying to stare her down
while he made his point. Ever since he got the truth out of Mandy, he felt he was the master of
his stare-down technique. "And the paper is so thin, it jams up the printer all the time, so I use a
half a ream and five toner cartridges just to print a ten-page document. It's ridiculous!"
Lisa was digging her heels in; that was becoming obvious. "There is something I need you to
understand here. It may take you some time, since you're all a little thick, but this initiative is
not about saving money. It's about doing our part to save the environment. Your invoices are
right in line with the costs at Three Ring. So you should be commended for doing your part to
save the earth."
"All the coffee mugs broke. How is that being kind to the environment?" Violet had been
dying to get her two cents in.