I learned a lesson today…or a few days ago, but it was graphically underlined today. Years ago, I stored some plastic drafting templates and triangles, including some old ones that had been my father’s, in a plastic bag, inside a box, with all my other old drafting equipment. Later, the box started emitting an unpleasant odor that I knew was from the templates, but I thought they were just aging…Not to say that aging things smell!
Although in the case of some cheeses…
Anyway, I pulled that box out of my closet recently, to put in storage. The smell suddenly got a lot worse. I guess I disturbed something…maybe knocked the bag open more than it had been, or the stack of templates shifted. I had been having headaches really often lately, usually feeling queasy, too. I was starting to think there was something wrong with our house. You read about “sick house syndrome” so much that you start wondering, when you constantly feel crummy!
Well, the other day, when I took the box to put in storage, it was in the car with my daughter and me, so we experienced it up close and personal! She got in the car first, while I was locking up the house. Before I got out the back door, she yelled, “Mama!!”
I opened the back door. “What?”
“I’m gonna yak!”
I laughed. “Oh, that’s just that box of drafting stuff.”
She hung her head out the window, gagging theatrically. “It smells like barf…and old pizza!”
At first I dismissed it as her sensitive nose, and the confined space of the car. But then I got in the car.
Thankfully, we didn’t have far to drive, because other people on the road were giving us odd looks. Both windows, and the sunroof were open, but we were still getting asphyxiated. Or delirious. We were laughing hysterically and cracking jokes:
“If you don’t toss those templates, I’m gonna toss my cookies”! (Peals of laughter.)
A couple with a van were in the parking lot when we pulled in. Their van had broken down and they were trying to get my husband to help. I wondered what they thought. They probably wondered what we were hauling. I wondered if their car would run on the fumes coming from mine.
When we got out of the car, I did, indeed, “toss” some templates…right into the dumpster. I didn’t want to throw them all away. I doubt you can easily replace these things today, as they are pretty much obsolete. But when I started looking at them, some were absolutely destroyed, whole chunks having broken out of them, and others warped, or melted together as though they had been stored in the attic in our south Louisiana summer heat.
I placed what remained in the upside down lid of the box, and set it on top of the box of equipment, so the smell could hopefully dissipate. I put the whole thing near the door, inside our storage unit, on top of a stack, so the smell would go up, toward the openings at the top of the walls, and get blown out by the air conditioner. My husband slunk off with his handkerchief over his nose.
That was two or three days ago.
Today, we went back, to take another load of stuff to put in storage. As we pulled our loaded carts down the hall, I caught a whiff of something rank! No, it was more than a whiff. It was wafting through the air halfway down the hall from our unit! Ughhh! When I unlocked the door and raised it, I was reminded of Gollum’s tortured and strangled “It burns us!”
Needless to say, I couldn’t leave the culprits there. If the management discovered where the stink was coming from, they probably would have thought we had food stored (against the rules), and that it was rotten. Or maybe a dead body! Yes, it really was that bad!
So we brought them home, and I tossed some more templates-and triangles, this time. I broke apart the ones that had melted together, managing to save one of them, and I saved a piece of one that had been my father’s, probably when he was in school, as he had scratched “Billy” and his last name on it. It was strangely soft… The rest, I left in our carport, to air. The drafting equipment hangover was threatening again.
Now for the moral of the story…or maybe, two morals.
First, don’t store plastic or vinyl items stacked together, where they touch one another. Separate them with sheets of paper or paper towels. Also, don’t store them in a plastic bag. Stack them in a box or a paper bag, or even store each one in it’s own paper envelope. Even if they are separated by sheets of paper, if they are still stored in a plastic bag, the bag, or its fumes may react with the items.
Second, you know how certain politicians try to convince you that the earth is on its last legs, that carbon dioxide (which plants need, to make oxygen) is “pollution” and that plastic takes “hundreds of years” to decompose? Don’t believe it for a minute! Just stick it in a plastic bag with some old templates and triangles.
But for heaven’s sake, protect your cookies, and bury the darn thing!