Last month we kicked off a series of blogs about our favorite things to do in the areas we call...
I was speaking with my colleagues one day regarding customer expectations. The famous Arthur C. Clark quote, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” was mentioned. It made me think about a lot of things that we don’t consider technology, which someone from the past would.
Bathrooms, for example, are not something I would consider technology. Gravity makes waste and water go down. That same force is exploited to create the water pressure that feeds the system; no “magic” there. But imagine somebody who has had to carry buckets of water (drawn from a really deep hole) every day of their life… That person would probably walk into the Omni Resources bathroom and stand in awe of the magical technologies displayed in front of them.
We are surrounded by such things that are really rather marvelous. We don’t think about the technology that backs these basic systems. We don’t even consider it technology until, however, there is a problem. I am reminded of a snippet from the popular TV show “The Big Bang Theory”. Leonard, Sheldon, Howard and Raj are driving in a car when it when it breaks down. They are all scientists who know everything there is about internal combustion engines, except how to fix one. I felt similarly inept when I went to use Omni’s bathroom last month and found the toilets filled to the brim and the urinals over flowing.
Yet, on the flip side, there is another part of these systems that we give even less thought. Not only do I not want to be bothered with the details of how to fix plumbing or internal combustion engines, but I don’t really want to contemplate the repercussions of said tech. For example, what have been the effects of water consumption since indoor plumbing? What’s the effect of every one of us owning our own vehicle? I suppose it’s not necessarily that I couldn’t find these things moderately interesting. But I only have so many “brain cycles” in a day, and I’m at that age where I pay attention to where they go.
The same is true in regards to garbage. I find nothing about garbage “magical,” yet I demand their receptacles be omnipresent. I can tell you I am annoyed when I have to carry around a piece of refuse because I cannot find it’s “home”; I’m like an owner at a dog park searching for an excrement container. Furthermore, it’s not only finding a garbage can, but that garbage can must also be sufficiently empty. Because if I approach a garbage can that has its contents spewing out its entry point… Well let’s just say that like my previous mention of Omni’s temporary bathroom outage, I thought about it.
I am not really a neophyte like I paint myself to be in this article. I understand some of the environmental repercussions of every person’s aspiration for a motor vehicle. I have done plumbing work and have lived next to a sewage disposal plant. I am too old to believe in magic and know that Clark’s described gap between magic and technology is closed simply by a person’s willingness to spend daily “brain cycles” on a given subject.
So when I was asked to make a decision of where my folded up Kleenex box went while I stood in front of the Omni Resources recycle bins, I knew that the extra effort multiplied by millions would affect the world our children inherit; it was worth the “brain cycles.”
You see, I know that the giant seagull crowned mountain that I pass on my weekly commute to the office isn’t a future ski resort where I can someday spend my paycheck. That is the Outagamie County Landfill and it was to be the ultimate home for my Kleenex box if I decided that it wasn’t worth the extra few “brain cycles” to make sure it wasn’t appropriately diverted; inaction by which multiplied to the millions has created many such Wisconsin “mountains.”
People think it’s hard to do the right thing. It’s not hard to do the right thing. It’s hard to know what the right thing is. But once you know what the right thing is, it’s hard not to do it.1999, The Confession
I asked Pam, Omni’s executive assistant, where I was supposed to place my cardboard Kleenex box. She told me that ultimately it was just going to go into the trash and so any of the receptacles would be fine. That was a surprise to me, as Omni offered separate bins for trash and recyclables! I knew from my previous employer that there were commingled recycling programs available through Advanced Disposal, our refuse removal firm. I escalated my concerns to our VP of Operations who ultimately organized a meeting with the building managers.
After that, it was simply a matter of raising awareness with other building tenants. As I said, the effort at Omni was minimal since we already separated our garbage. Since that time, recycling at Omni has been as easy as watching water go down the drain. No magic necessary!