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Everyone awoke to a mid-afternoon cacophony, the collision of glass and metal and plastic. Then came the jostling. And as is tradition, everyone scurried to welcome the new guy to town.

Trying to find his feet and his bearings, in either order, the newest arrival strained his eyes to the darkness. The immediate void morphed into geometric silhouettes, which slowly came into focus. An array of empty jars, cans, and cartons surrounded him, seemingly staring and gawking. Behind them, blue walls reaching for infinity.

The empty can of Coors Banquet beer broke the silence.

“What the heck do you think you’re doing here?” he asked, forgoing the pleasantries. “You must be lost,” Coors Banquet added, with the bravado and drawl of the town sheriff.

The new guy stood up straight as another voice beckoned from the other side of him. “Oh he definitely does not belong,” stated the pickle jar. This welcome wagon sure had a sour aftertaste.

“How do we get rid of him?” barked the can of Purina Alpo, who looked a lot worse for wear than the other members of the surrounding posse.

“Where are all your manners?” a matronly voice broke through the interrogation, coming from the milk carton. Finally an ally. “The best way to get him out of here is to work with him, not evict him immediately.”

He’d heard enough. How many recyclable vessels did it take to screw a lightbulb out?

If he waited for the pleasantries, it would be too late. “I come in peace, I promise,” offered the discarded old lightbulb. “I’m not looking to replace anyone. I did that once and have been living with the guilt for years.”

A quick survey of the crowd didn’t uncover any hastening sympathies. “Look, I’ll stay out of your way, if it makes you all happy. I’m recently retired and just ready to fade away. I’m used up like the rest of you and not looking for any trouble.”

“Problem is, buddy, that used up is very different for a guy like you and a community like us. We still have purpose and calling, whereas you are just trash. It’s material integrity. I know it’s harsh, but it’s science,” explained the disposable razor, its sharp words cutting deep.

“Sorry,” tendered a small dropper bottle of hemp oil, trying to easy the pain. “But we are destined for second and third lives, and one non-recyclable item can ruin generations of our reincarnation. That’s why everyone’s all so uptight about it all.”

“The bright side is that since you can’t decompose, you’ll be around basically forever,” insisted the newspaper, before reminding everyone, “I don’t know why you think I am so doom and gloom all the time.”

Coors Banquet knew it was time for leadership to step up, as the situation was getting no less fraught.

“Basically we need a reverse Toy Story. Gotta get that thing out of here before we are all tossed into the big can outside. But if we toss him now, some idiot human will probably throw it right back in here. Lightbulb, if we tossed you over the side, could you roll away, towards the white bin?”

“WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING QUICK,” demanded the coffee canister, who never had any chill.

The lightbulb took in the wild dysfunction surrounding him.

Between everyone’s holier than thou attitudes and the sticky surfaces all around, not to mention the disgusting smell coming from the unrinsed yogurt tub, a quick ouster was fine by him. While the others bickered about the best way to salvage the situation, the lightbulb got a bright idea. If everyone in the kitchen was as fervent to get him to the trash, maybe he could get some help from outside the recycling bin.

The lightbulb offered himself up. “Toss me towards the sink. I can handle the rest,” and the gang gleefully obliged. He pulled himself up the rubber gloves, dangling down the sink basin, and then rolled down the counter towards the big white bin. The leap was still likely a bit too long. Lightbulb explained himself to the cookbooks, who lay down their stacks and provided a bridge, halfway to the abyss. When he was close enough to jump, the lightbulb surveyed his exiled domain, a place he once illuminated for others. He got a rolling start and lept at the edge.

Josh Bard

Josh Bard is a guy. A sports guy, an ideas guy, a wise guy, a funny guy, a Boston guy, and sometimes THAT guy. Never been a Guy Fieri guy, though.

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