LARSON: Former warden requests recycling reform

"Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens."

Is there anyone who hasn't seen Julie Andrews dance across the screen in "The Sound of Music" singing that song about her favorite things? Every time I hear it, I'm inspired to think of my favorite things and how they have changed over the decades. Most currently, what comes to mind are avocado shakes from Pho Delight, working crossword puzzles with my husband and the funny little "cooing" sound our cat Jessie Belle makes when I pet her. Favorite things I never could have imagined when I first heard that song in the 60s.

A recent chat with Jim Kraus, former Warden of the Gwinnett County Department of Corrections brought to light that there are others out there who have favorite things they never could have fathomed in the past.

Take the recycling detail at the prison for example. Here inmates have to descend into the depths of the landfill and sort out "treasures" off of a conveyor belt to be recycled. Since this is perceived to be an unpleasant task, it is usually a new prisoner's first assignment. From there he can work his way up. If he wants to.

But, sometime inmates just don't want to leave. They are having too good a time recycling in their own manner as they rescue discarded goodies from the rubble.

"From time to time a container with a little bit of wine or whiskey or an unopened can of beer appears," Kraus said.

Of course, they know if they get caught, uh, saving the environment from these waste products, they will have to face disciplinary action, but for many it's worth the risk.

Kraus recalled one inmate, when called on the carpet for his actions said, "Warden, that's an alcoholic's smorgasbord down there. You don't know the temptation that goes down that line."

"Here we thought that was the worst thing anyone would ever have to do and they thought it was the premiere job," Kraus said.

At this point in our conversation, the retired warden asked me if I would use my column to make a public service announcement to my readers and ask that they please empty all bottles of alcoholic beverages before disposing of them in order to remove these temptations. OK. Consider it done.

He also noted that due to policy changes in the last year or so, prison inmates are no longer assigned to recycling duty in the landfill. But, it's still a job that needs to be done and someone out there is doing it.

The next time you drive by a landfill, you probably won't think of it as one of your favorite things. The sight! The stench! The social irresponsibility it reflects! But remember, no matter how offensive it is to you, someone is down there singing, "Wine drops, Four Roses and whiskey! We're smitten!"

Susan Larson is a writer from Lilburn. E-mail her at susanlarson79@gmail.com.


sarahldavis 3 years, 3 months ago

Improtant advice and I just love Susan's rewrite of the Julie Andrews lyrics at the end.


Sign in to comment