There’s a scene at the beginning of Ghostbusters when Bill Murray’s Dr. Peter Venkman is conducting an electroshock/ESP study with a female student and a stereotypical 1980’s nerd. We all know the scene so I won’t describe it here (if you don’t know this scene, please just stand quietly in the corner until the grown ups are done having their conversation).
My favorite moment is when the male student is shocked yet again and tells Dr. Venkman to “…keep the five bucks, I’ve had it!” before he storms out of the room.
That’s the point in the film when you slap yourself in the forehead and ask aloud, “You did that for five bucks? What a moron.”
Not So Fast
I was replaying this scene in my head as I once again drove around San Francisco looking for a redemption center for my collection of aluminum cans. Collection may be a strong word but I’ve had these cans for more than a month and we became quite close. Another week and I may have started to name them. I probably would have run out of names after “Canny” and “Uncanny” though…
As I drove towards Safeway in the Marina my original happiness at collecting what could possibly be anywhere between one and two dollars had transformed into frustration.
Everything’s Better Somewhere Else
You see, back in Massachusetts, there exists redemption machines at every supermarket. Here in San Francisco, I now understand why the homeless population is always lugging them around – like Moses in the desert they are lost in their search.
The day before I had tried two supermarkets – a Safeway and a Trader Joe’s by Fisherman’s Wharf. After striking out at both locations I sought assistance online and discovered that there are a handful of places in San Francisco that redeem cans. I swear, someone here has a vice like grip on all of the nickels.
As I scanned the list I saw a local market in the Marina aptly called Marina Supermarket. Jackpot! Unfortunately the jovial store manager, who also closely resembled the Ghostbusters shock-nerd, informed that they only took bottles, despite the flyer on the front window that says it is illegal for them to refuse any redeemable product including cans. You heard me correctly…illegal (that’s right, I’m hands-on-hips mad).
Let’s Move On
Since I had another option I moved on. To Safeway and their outdoor redemption machine. This was more like it, a familiar face. I pushed the first can against the metal doors but they wouldn’t budge. What the… It must be jammed.
Then I saw it, the digital green screen said the machine only redeemed cans between 10am and 4pm. Yet another violation of San Francisco can redemption law (hands back on hips). The machine must take the cans as long as the store is open. Sadly I know this information from my online research (now I resemble the Ghostbusters nerd).
Let’s fast forward to today when I had to move my car for street cleaning. I made another trip to Safeway, eagerly anticipating winning this contest between myself and…well nobody really, just the satisfaction of accomplishing a task that took on a life of it’s own.
I made it. 3:45pm. I pushed the first can in…and it came back out. Not redeemable at this store. That’s ok, I have more brands and I will win. The next can was also rejected and the next. One can, a Safeway brand, was turned away for not being sold at Safeway according to that bastard green screen.
I had not been this agitated since a few days earlier when the library did not have the book on the shelf that the computer said was on the shelf. I mean, come on, computers like newspapers are never supposed to be wrong, right?
Anyway, you may be asking where this non-story is headed. Well, I really did not want to give the cans to a homeless person. Although the prospect of tracking someone to a redemption center was appealing, I felt I would be contributing to detrimental behavior of someone in need of programmatic assistance.
So, they went in the recycling bin. Thanks San Francisco! You’re inane redemption policy meant that prior to recycling my few ounces of aluminum, I laid down a carbon footprint that offset my recycling for the next few months.
I’m an Ass
Wow, this rant is worthy of being posted on Yelp for its complete lack of usefulness (yes, I genuinely hate Yelp).
Now that I am done, here’s a little reminder for the 1980’s about the pursuit of a few dollars: