REALITY CHECK: It takes nothing but trash to boost my self esteem

Reality Check | Mike Taylor

I feel so self-righteous, holier than thou and just a tiny bit superior. This is an unusual situation for me; usually I place my self worth somewhere between bag lady and politician, so, pretty low on the social totem pole.

But not anymore. From now on, when I walk down the street, I’ll hold my head high. There’ll be a spring in my step that says to the world, “I’m just a little better than you are. So there.”

Why this sudden change in my admittedly delusional self perception?

I got a recycling bin. That’s right, I’ve joined the tree-hugging, self-satisfied, legions of long-haired, hippy-type, Greenpeace-joining, electric car-driving, tofu-eating, Kerouac-reading, organic garden-planting, craft beer-drinking goody-goodies who want to do right by Mother Earth.

Well, I didn’t exactly join their ranks; I was kinda drafted. By Sweet Annie. She’s the one who signed me up for recycling. Until she did, I wasn’t even aware recycling was an option in our area.

Not only is it an option, it’s free! Turns out all I had to do was make a phone call (or, in my case, let Annie make a phone call) and voila, somebody drops off a recycling bin. I fill it up with discarded plastic, glass, metal and paper, then drag it to the curb and — presto — somebody picks it all up, grinds it down (or whatever it is they do to it) and turns it into new plastic, glass, metal and paper.

That seems so much better than seeing it all go to a landfill somewhere.

I know I’m probably the last one to jump on this particular train, but now that I have, I intend to ride it all the way to the end of the line. I mean, recycling could be just the first step in my all-new, “ain’t I great?” lifestyle.

It turns out I enjoy feeling smug. Having so rarely done any good things in the past, I wasn’t sure this would be the case, but it is. It is!

So I can’t help but wonder, if recycling my trash makes me feel this self-satisfied, how much more unbearably self-congratulatory might I become if I did other good stuff?

If, for instance, I started wearing only all-natural, hemp shirts purchased at some pretentious mall store that specializes in “fair trade” clothing, how would that make me feel? Pretty superior, I’ll bet.

How about if I donated a few cans of lima beans to a local food bank? Or helped a little old lady to cross the street? Or … well … there are all sorts of “reformed Grinch” things I could do to make myself feel even more smug than I already do.

Of course, this could have a downside. If people start expecting me to be a decent human being all the time, I’ll almost certainly disappoint them eventually. That would make me feel bad, which would land my self-esteem right back there between bag lady and politician.

Maybe I’d better just stick with the recycling thing and see how that goes.

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