Now, I know I have talked about this before (and before that, even) but I know some of you are new and, anyhow, there are two years’ worth of blogs still waiting to be migrated from the old website to this one. (What happens, see, is the little people who live inside the website need to pack up and catch Metra to commute themselves to the new location. I suspect they moonlight on other websites, though, and if you’ve SEEN what goes on on some of these other websites, you can’t blame them for not having enough time in the day.)
So I would like to discuss those bags you have been donating books in. There are a few simple guidelines I would like you to remember, keeping in mind all the while that violating these will not make me chase you away when you arrive at the door. I cannot answer for St. Peter, and what he does when you arrive at HIS door, and he checks his record and he shouts “Books in bread bags?” I’m just suggesting thinking twice—or even thrice—might save you considerable inconvenience later on.
HANDLES: They really speed up the movement of bags. Scooping up non-handled bags one at a time and lugging them inside is an irritation to the soul. Not easy on the arms, either.
AVOID PAPER: I swear the paper in shopping bags is getting thinner all the time. Either that or the corners of books are getting sharper. I think three out of every four paper shopping bags have self-destructed so far this month. There are five local entrepreneurs who use paper shopping bags which fall into despair very easily. Other paper bags can sometimes live with a small puncture or rip, but bags with any of these five names on them go all to pieces in a matter of seconds. No, I will not name these stores. They would answer, and rightly so, that they didn’t design their bags for carrying copies of The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Could you possibly just concentrate, where possible, on plastic shopping bags? I know paper is supposed to be more recyclable, but some of those start to recycle before I’m quite done with them. And plastic is recyclable, you know, if you use it over and over and over.
TOTE BAGS: I have nothing against these in general, and they’re fun to use at checkout come July. (You mean I get a zippered bag just for buying The DaVinci Code?) But the more zippers and compartments they have, the less efficient they seem to be for carrying books. Mind you, it is more efficient than packing all the books in shopping bags and then using another shopping bag for the totes.
EMPTY: It makes my life more interesting, but you MIGHT want to consider making absolutely sure the bag is empty before you use it. I have often whined about books in leaf bags which also included some of last year’s leaves. (Does me no good. My theory is that I whine at a higher pitch than the human ear can hear.) But this week, I was emptying the books from a bag which had been double-bagged. (By the way, that business about paper bags tearing too easily? Using two doesn’t seem to help much. I just wind up with twice as much paper to recycle.)
The outer bags had begun to split, but the inner bag looked all right, so I pulled the inner bag out for re-use at checkout in July. And that’s when I found out the outer bag had not been emptied before this inner bag was put inside. At first, I thought I had uncovered someone’s yarmulke collection. (I get a lot of these; apparently they make excellent bookmarks.) Looking more closely, I found I had a pair of rubber insoles and, um, three pairs of inserts for another piece of clothing entirely. They were still pinned together by color, so the previous owner wouldn’t wear one black and one white to the same party.
Ma’am, I do feel honored that you would trust me with something you’d kept that close to your heart, but I think the website makes clear that we do not accept clothing donations. Even of inner underwear. After all, what category can I put them into? Architecture?
BANANA BOXES: Yes, I would prefer even a handleless paper bag to a banana box. Garbage bags are another thing altogether.