What kind of sick fuck would steal somebody’s Grey Box? Last week, instead of finding my grey recycling bin waiting for me to deposit my unwanted paper products, in the spirit of that bedraggled whore of an ideal that passes for environmentalism in my household, I found only the blue one in my breakfast nook. Apparently, my housemates informed me, some rat bastard had taken its companion.

In the grand scheme of things, a missing Grey Box is a pretty silly thing to get annoyed about. Yet it irks me so. It’s not like I really care about my Grey Box. It’s not like it was actually valuable, or had sentimental meaning. It cost me all of five bucks. I paid twelve to see Attack of the Clones, so obviously I have no attachment to money. No, it was not the cost of this crime that has incited me to write a six-hundred-plus-word rant about my recycling bin.

I purchased the Grey Box from the City of Toronto because I was sick of using stolen milk-crates (er…forget you read that). Anyway, to obtain a new recycling bin, one only has to find the nearest solid waste depot and choose a colour: grey for paper, blue for glass, plastic and metal, or green for yard waste. If you’re a new resident, the City will even give you a matching set of brand-spanking-new blue and grey boxes, absolutely free.

My problem is that the nearest depot is a forty-five-minute walk from my house (one way), the TTC is useless for getting there, and the office closes at three or some similarly ridiculous hour (not useful for late risers with day jobs). Not having a car, I must haul any new receptacles home on my back, which is not only time-consuming but embarrassing. People stare at you as if you’ve stolen the boxes, or like you’re just crazy. It doesn’t help that I have to walk past the psychiatric hospital at 1001 Queen to make this trek.

The reason for the theft—this grave injustice, this pox on humanity—seems clear enough. Somebody needed a Grey Box, and either didn’t know where to get one of their own, or was too indolent to bother.

Then again, perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps my Grey Box was stolen by anti-globalization activists, to be thrown through some multinational’s window during their next protest. Perhaps it was stolen by radical right-wingers, who despise environmental consciousness in any form, especially municipal recycling programs. Maybe aliens took it.

Perhaps my Grey Box was the victim of some injection-molded sex criminal, and right now lies helpless and battered, cold and alone, with its soiled and torn underthings pulled down around its plastic sides. More likely, some drunk teenager picked it up so he’d have something to puke into on the long walk home.

The point is, if somebody had walked up to me and said, “Can I have five dollars so I can buy a Grey Box?” I would have given it to them, no questions asked. The money doesn’t matter. It’s the effort involved. If I owned a car and it were stolen, I would have been less bothered. At least a car is worth stealing. No, this was a crime of laziness, and that I can’t abide.

What bothers me even more is that some petty individual has come along and pushed me just a little bit further down the slippery slope that ends with me wearing a pair of checked flannel pants, a sweat-yellowed undershirt and a coonskin cap, sitting in a rocking chair on my porch with a shotgun over my lap, shouting “Hey you kids, get off my goddamn lawn!”

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