Like most of our fellow north peninsula residents, we do the majority of our grocery shopping at Okie's Thriftway or Jack's Country Store. One of our exceptions is canned beverages such as soda and beer which we purchase across the river in Warrenton. The reason is simple — Washington state taxes these items and Oregon has no tax but does apply a 10-cent deposit, which we can recover by recycling.

Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus, all the recycling centers had been shut down for at least the past three months, so we have a backlog of what eventually proved to be over 360 deposit cans. When we heard that the recycling centers had reopened, we packed up all of our cans in two large trash bags and took off for Warrenton. We first went to Walmart, because they have the most and newest machines. We took our bags out of the back of our pickup and started to walk into the recycling center and were instantly stopped by a man who apparently was in charge of the operation who promptly informed us that we would have to wait until he gave us permission to enter. He then pointed to a spot about 20 feet up the sidewalk where there was a green stripe and told me that was the starting point and by the way, only one of us would be allowed to go in to recycle.

So I told my wife to go in the store and I would come and get her when I had finished with the cans. Little did I know that my ordeal was just beginning. I would like to point out that I was the only person waiting to recycle — no one in front of me or behind me — just me.

For the rest of this narrative I will refer to the man in charge as the "Guardian Of Deposits" or by the acronym, GOD. Shortly, GOD signaled me to approach him and advised me that it was my turn to recycle my stuff and I had exactly 10 minutes to complete my task which I knew to be impossible. GOD told me that it was now 12:15 p.m. and he would tell me when my time was up at 12:25 p.m. I began feverishly shoving cans into the machine opening and my nerves didn't help, causing me to drop cans on the floor. In what seemed to be only a couple of minutes GOD told me my time was up and I hadn't even completed emptying one of the bags.

I looked out the door and saw that there was no one waiting to recycle anything so I suggested to GOD that I could go back to the starting point at the green stripe and go through the process all over again and he would not be breaking any rules. That idea did not go over very well with GOD and he recited the complete rules regarding recycling at Walmart: "one person-10-minutes-once a day" and any deviation of these rules would cause the government to once again shut down the recycling center.

I certainly know when I've been put in my place so I gave up and went to find my wife. When we were leaving the store I decided to take one more shot at it. GOD was sitting in a chair with his back to me so I approached him with my Corona mask on that muffled my voice I said, "Howdy pardner, I got some cans I want to recycle." He turned to look at me and said, "I know you, you were here before and you still can't recycle today," which only shows that it's not nice to try and trick GOD.

Now onto part two of this story which is really the "punch line" to whole affair.  Our next stop was to Costco. While my wife went inside to shop I decided to take a chance on recycling my deposit cans. Costco only has three machines — one each for glass, plastic and cans — and there did not appear to be anyone in control of the operation, so no special rules. That was kind of a pleasant surprise but there was a young couple with two shopping carts full of an assortment of cans and bottles and they were using all three of the machines. I figured that they would keep the machines in use for the rest of the day so I went to find my wife. As we left the store I was pleased to find that the couple were almost finished so we waited until they finished and we then took our turn and recycled our cans. At no point did anyone from Costco interfere with us or try to enforce any dopey rules. So the bottom line here is, were the "government rules" at Walmart really just "Walmart rules"? I don't know what, if any, special rules were being applied by the other recycling centers at Safeway or Fred Meyer. What I really don't understand is, that if there really are official "rules" that apply to recycling centers, these rules would include Costco, so why did we find such an extreme difference?


Ocean Park

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