Many of us are familiar with the story of how the Ninja Turtles came to be: a container of radioactive green glowing ooze spilled out onto four baby turtles and a rat causing them to grow abnormally large and super smart. After extensive training from Splinter in the art of ninjutsu the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles became the heroes many of us know and love. The world was lucky, we were lucky, we could have ended up with a quartet of flesh eating zombie turtles and a psychopathic serial killer rat. The recycling crew often comes in contact with strange unidentifiable liquids, sharp objects and other potentially hazardous materials. I am writing this article to explore what could happen if the entire recycling crew came in contact with the wrong materials… you think we are weird now, just imagine what the implications of that kind of accident could be.
Ray Cockrell, the crew boss of Auto Shop, is a sweet and innocent man. When questioned about the potential hazards of automotive waste he was concerned about the environmental impact of such materials. He mentioned the frequency of discovering used oil in the woods. Situations where containers have been left out, rained in and eventually found overflowing onto the surrounding ground. He says that it is more environmentally conscious and better for your car to simply take it to get the oil changed, therefore preventing any accidental spills or neglectful behavior. If you decide to change oil yourself, he says that it is incredibly important to take the used oil back to where you purchased the new oil. I applaud Ray for his concerns, but honestly I could care less about the environmental impact, mostly because of what really happens when mystery fluids make it into the trash. Sometimes, people put mystery ooze, possibly from their vehicles, into soda bottles. The recycling crew has become comfortable with trash (possibly too comfortable). I fear for the day that one of our crew members takes a swig of one of these bottles or it bursts open onto one of us. The wrong combination of oozes could result in a super-strength-sledgehammer-wielding-metal-head, or an evil video game obsessed killer, or (the worse possible outcome) a brain-hungry psychology major… this crew is diverse and the various potential evils run rampant.
In short, dispose of auto fluids and other mysterious liquids properly. Oil should be returned to wherever it was purchased (such as Advanced Auto Parts). These businesses have built in fees for recycling oil which you pay at the time of purchase. With other fluids, items, and ooze: (at the very least) label them correctly and clearly so that we know what they are and how to dispose of them. You can always personally deliver these kinds of items to a crew member so that we can assist in proper disposal.
Another potential danger for the recycling crew, and by extension, all of humanity, is sharp objects. Just imagine a needle or razor blade being in the wrong bag and picking up rabies, tetanus or one of those mystery oozes. We would not only have a recycling crew member who is pissed, but also one who has rabies (imagine philosophy class with a red-eyed classmate drooling at the mouth and staring at you). When speaking to the health center, they suggested that any kind of needle sharps be put into a hard plastic container with a lid and be taken to the health center for disposal. The same rule applies to razors and such, put them into a hard plastic container with a lid and put it in your trash shed or bring it to the Recycling Center. When asked about the emergency plan for a recycling crew member with rabies the health center had no comment. Please note that the research on tetanus provides a list of symptoms: drooling, excessive sweating, fever, irritability, uncontrolled urination or defecation and prolonged muscular action causing sudden and painful contractions of muscle groups—the dreaded lockjaw. If you see a crew member with any of these symptoms beware: tetanus is simply a cover-up for real un-live zombies. Please dispose of sharp objects appropriately to prevent my crew from drooling more than they already do.
One of the most common dangerous materials we encounter is broken glass. We handle it everyday. We use appropriate personal protection equipment, but that only gets us so far. Speaking from personal experience, it is really disconcerting to lift a bag of glass as big as myself, and for that bag to have a ridiculous amount of broken glass in it, which transforms it into a ticking bomb. This becomes a danger to the campus at large purely because an irritated crew member is not fun, especially if they are going through the transition from human to zombie, which is an emotional roller-coaster to say the least. To prevent any accidents for and by the recycling crew: double bag your broken glass.
CFL’s (Compact Florescent Light-bulbs)
CFL’s contain mercury in the inner bulb. Should a CFL break, there is a specific way to deal with the risk of contamination. If the proper steps are not taken, one runs the risk of exposure to deadly liquid metal. On more than one occasion our crew has found improperly disposed of broken CFLs. When we find one of these bulbs in a trash bag, we have no idea when it has broken and if we are being exposed to mercury. We must wait and observe the crew members for signs of mercury poisoning. Symptoms of mercury poisoning in humans include: angry fits, short term memory loss, low self esteem, inability to sleep, loss of self-control, inability to learn, loose teeth, ulcerated and bloody gums, uncontrolled quaking in the eye lids, feet, and elsewhere; in short—zombification. Dylan Suter an electric crew supervisor says that if you see a broken CFL in your dorm or accidentally break one; DO NOT CLEAN IT UP YOURSELF!!! First open any nearby windows and evacuate the room for at least 15 minutes. Acute exposure of 4-8 hours is necessary to make an effect on humans, so it is important that you leave the area until the bulb is cleaned up. Next either get your RD or if it is between 8-5 during the weekdays, call the Electric Crew at x3081. During the weekends and night an available RA or RD will have access to a CFL cleanup kit. After the bulb has been cleaned up it is safe to use the space again without worry of mercury exposure. Remember kids, only you can prevent zombification.
If you have further questions regarding waste disposal you can email the recycling crew at email@example.com call us at x2035, check our website at www.warren-wilson.edu/~recycle/
If you need to know more about the zombie defense methods check out www.zombiehunters.org/forum/
*Disclaimer: Lack of sleep, use of illegal and legal drugs as well as simply being a college student can lead to paranoia. If this article induced fears please seek medical attention immediately. There are on-campus resources for those of you who can not see this article for what it is: educational satire.