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October 29, 2020: Bright Lights on an Overcast Day

Today, you carpooled with your partner: when you left home the sun was shining brightly. But this was up at your place. Closer to town, the Mat-Su Valley was enshrouded in fog, making it seem like there had been a major weather change. But no, not really. You are just lucky in that your place has both southern exposure and is at the foothills of the Talkeetna Range.

You’d elected today to go to the recycling center and get kid’s books ready for a Halloween book sale. That was the plan. But as is always the case in working on this project, things change in the space between the VCRS parking lot and the recycling center warehouse floor.

You put on your vest and walked down the stairs, through the heavy double doors. You then momentarily covered your ears because the noise was overwhelming. Seconds later, you grabbed your ear protectors and put them on. You were wearing a mask, so as to protect yourself from the airborne droplets of others; this also helped to keep some of the floor dust particles at bay.

You then stopped and took a look around. You noticed that six shopping carts were filled with books to be shredded. A second glance revealed that they contained good books,

books that needn’t be shredded or pulped. There wasn’t anything you could do about this because a more pressing task awaited you.

To the left of the carts were two pallets full of unsorted books. Some of the books were in cardboard boxes and others were in plastic and paper bags. Quite obviously, this corner area had become a drop off point for those discarding books. In your mind, this corner embodied what had gone awry with the project. People, in hearing about the Bright Lights Book Project last winter, have since elected to bring their books to the recycling center. And the VCRS policy is to accept these books. This means two things. 1. There is a backlog of books. And 2. The so-called sorting/distribution area is filled with books, some sorted, some not.

You, who were to work alone, had the thought that the day’s new task, which was to sort the books on the two pallets. This was actually okay with you because really, you wanted to sort books, with the plan of taking some home.

You worked nonstop, from noon until 4 p.m. As for the original task, which was to sort out and prepare the kid’s books for the sale – you made this a secondary task by sorting through and setting aside the children’s books that were on the two pallets. As it was, there were so many books in front of the children’s book pallet that you couldn’t get to it anyways.

Books, books, books. As the day came to an end, you reminded yourself that the sun was most likely shining back up on the hill. However, the illusion of overcast weather kept you from regretting your decision, which was to work today at VCRS.

As you put boxes of books in the back of the Tundra, you felt a strong sense of satisfaction. You did a thorough job of sorting and saved a few hundred or so books from being shredded and pulped. And in this way, you made the world a better place.

Next: 300. 10/30/20: Going down, Fast

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