‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ by Phil Yeats

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month, the task is a story about “someone finding a bag.” This week’s contribution comes from Phil Yeats.

In December 2018, Phil (using his Alan Kemister pen name) published his most recent novel. Tilting at Windmills, the second in the Barrettsport Mysteries series of soft-boiled police detective stories set in an imaginary Nova Scotia coastal community is available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Tilting-Windmills-Barrettsport-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B07L5WR948/. He’s currently working on a saga about the hazards of ignoring climate change.

*****

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

by Phil Yeats

He scanned the three cardboard boxes arrayed on the grass between the sidewalk and the street. Each bore the word free in large black letters. The first box contained a coffee maker and an assortment of kitchen utensils. The second overflowed with paperback books. Box three, a sturdy-looking cloth bag amongst a mishmash of junk.

It was a large computer case with a shoulder strap and a carrying handle. He recognized the type produced years earlier when the first portable computers appeared on the market. Those devices were large and heavy, more like trans-portables than portables. Their carrying bags were utilitarian, constructed from sturdy synthetic materials.

He pulled it from the box and gave it a cursory inspection. It showed little sign of wear. He slung it over his shoulder and carried it home.

He used his newly acquired satchel five days a week for the next thirty years. It carried his laptop, various notes and computations on loose sheets, and documents and textbooks he needed for his active project to and from his place of work. A distinct improvement of his previous habit of carrying a lot of loose material into the office.

On each of those 7500 mornings, he climbed the stairs to his third-floor office in a government office building. Managers come and went as each climbed the institutional ladder. His job never changed.

He investigated technical problems assigned by his program manager and assessed the data before reporting his results. He fed his reports with their supporting documents up the chain of command and took the Queen’s coin. His recompense was adequate to meet his needs, and he lacked the ambition to strive for more responsible and higher paying positions.

After reports left his desk, he rewarded himself with coffees before turning to his next problem. He never encountered a shortage of problems awaiting his attention.

Nothing changed until he submitted his final report on his retirement day. When he did so, no problem awaited his attention. He returned his most recent laptop to computer support and his reference books to the library. Everything else went for recycling. He grabbed his trusty satchel, empty for the first time in thirty years, and descended the stairs for the last time. No one noticed his departure.

In his apartment, he placed the forlorn-looking bag on a hook at the back of his coat closet and turned his attention to new challenges he set for himself. This departure from a routine established thirty-five years earlier didn’t alter his life. He investigated problems that came to his attention and reported the results in letters to the newspaper. After dropping his letters in the mailbox, he rewarded himself with coffees at his neighbourhood café. Complimentary newspapers he read at the café provided the fodder for his next investigations.

Years later, he shuffled off this mortal coil. When the apartment manager cleaned out the old man’s apartment, he found the old computer bag hanging from a hook in his coat closet. It had been hanging there, unused, since his old tenant retired.

He took it down and gave it a cursory inspection. Useful, he thought, as he slung it over his shoulder.

*****

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

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