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Portland, Oregon, United States

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Lesson in Life.

1991: I am ten. I was in 5th grade and we had all just come back from after lunch recess.  My 5th grade teacher was standing in front of the class with one of my schoolmates Lainey Thompson.  Mrs. Galbreath said she needs a volunteer and we will probably miss social studies and possibly math. I hate math. My hand shoots up!

"Ok, Susan, you can help." She picked me! I was so happy. For two seconds and then the doom set in.

She informs me that Lainey has left her retainer on her lunch tray and threw the whole lot away.  I had just volunteered to help her dig through the dumpster to look for it. I don't remember a lot of things from 5th grade. I remember Mrs. Galbreath showing us a tampon during sex ed (horrified!) the principal making me cry (douche) Mom making the principal very sorry for making me cry (Supermom!) and looking for that retainer.

We went down to the cafeteria and the lunch ladies gave us plastic aprons and gloves and then opened the front of the dumpster so we could start digging through the trash bags.  I don't remember what lunch was, but I do remember it was chocolate milk day. I could tell Lainey felt bad, but she was getting no sympathy from me. This was disgusting.

We both just stood there outside the dumpster waiting for the other one to climb in.  She kept saying things like "This isn't so bad. We will find it in no time!"  I wasn't convinced. Finally she gingerly climbed in there and started to open the bags. I was mortified. What if someone sees me?  I thought about just swinging that door closed with her in it and walking home. But she looked so sad and pathetic in there I finally caved in and started to help look.

It was an effort in futility though because everything was drenched in thick, mucusy chocolate milk. I thought I found it every 30 seconds. Nope, orange peel.  Nope, yogurt top. Nope, something unidentifiable.

After an hour of digging in 95 degree heat with the chocolate milk starting to turn, I had had enough. There is only so much dry heaving one can do before you think "I didn't throw my retainer away. Why am I here?" I told Lainey I was done.  And here's the kicker.  She gave up then as well, so we never even found that stupid retainer.

Lesson: Never volunteer for anything. Ever.

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