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February 1, 2020: Crossing the Line: Textiles

I knew the day would come, which is the day when I would cross the warehouse floor and rummage through the textiles. It was only a matter of when. Two months to the day, when I started going through books – I found myself walking across the floor – it was if a rope had been tied to my middle and some invisible force was pulling me in that direction.

I followed VCRS Marketing and Graphic Artist Terri Koch, who had no rope tied to her middle. She goes where she feels like, whenever she feels like it. Me, I’m generally bound to the book area. I heeded the textile call, a distinct yoo hoo, Alys, here we are, because I agreed to assist in finding t-shirts for silk screening. Terri said

Sorters go through a gaylord of hardbacks

she can do this. The t-shirts are going to say Bright Lights Book Project on one side and Let’s make Alaska Literate Again on the other side.

I did consider going over to the silk-screening place in town and putting in an order. However, I had as of late slowly come to the realization that the alternative, which is in this instance, using what’s on hand, would be better for the environment.

So there Terri and I were, rooting through two Gaylords full of thrift store discards. It was, for me, déjà vu all over again in that I had been down this road before. Then it was romance novels, children’s books, poetry and fiction, and autobiography. Now it was hats, scarves, sweaters, pants, jeans, and t-shirts that already had various logos on them.

I was somewhat hooked when I found this white polyester hat with a llama face on it. And I became really hooked hen I found a pair of knit gloves with pom poms on the fingers. I also found two pairs of nylon stockings (in the package) and a fake feather boa. Finally, I was able to accessorize – had to have things on hand that matched my warehouse garb, which is an orange reflective vest and a hard hat.

The reality of this particular situation was not lost on me. There I stood for some time, thinking – here I was, standing between two Gaylords, one in front of me and one behind me. Both were filled with clean, seemingly new clothing. There are people out there who right now are lacking decent clothing, hats and coats included. And here are discards, shit people don’t want, which will soon to be baled and sent elsewhere.

These two Gaylords were indicative of the fact that the priorities of many in this country are really askew. People take excess clothing that they have purchased to the thrift stores. And the thrift stores bring this clothing to the recycling center.

We consume, discard, consume, discard, consume, discard, ad infinitum.

Too seldom are the really poor on the receiving end.

I am at times wonderous that people would discard pristine books, but there the comparison ends because a book is not a scarf your grandmother knitted for you a few years back, one that would be well-received by a low-income person. Nor is it a sweater that would be gratefully accepted by a homeless person. It is really, just a book.

Well, an hour after making the trek to the textile area, I made the trek back to the book area. In other words, I crossed back over the line. If I had the time, I would do double duty and sort and distribute both books and clothing. But I do not have the time or, as importantly, the expertise that textile distribution requires. However, I suspect that I will be crossing the line again.

Next: 33. 2/2/20: A Day on the Homefront

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