08.24.2020 – Where’s the Bin?

Today’s Observation comes from my wife Becky. We share 42 plus years of marriage, a wonderful family, and a love of Christ, God’s Word, and the life and mission of the Church. Becky is a keen observer and diligent practitioner of the life of faith.

Becky concludes her post with a question.  If you’d like to share your answer, use our contact form, and I will be sure she sees it.   – Bill


We’ve moved before. Quite a few times; once, literally, from one side of the country to the other. I know how to get to know a community and an area, to find new sources and supplies for the things and services we used in the old place.

Here and now, in another new place unpacking boxes and making our new house a home, I’ve been doing that “get to know the community” thing successfully.  Except in one way:  where to recycle plastic shopping bags.

Bill and I make reasonable efforts to live responsibly.  Indeed, years ago, back in Oregon, the kids used to go with me to the Clackamas County recycling center, where you could find receptacles for strawberry baskets, Styrofoam, and even used motor oil.

In this new place, there is one primary grocery store: Kroger. Two of our offspring live in Kroger country, and I’ve shopped multiple times in the Krogers in their towns. Here in Auburn, I’ve already been at the Kroger several times. Until today, however, I had not been able to locate a bin to drop off our plastic shopping bags for recycling. Though I’ve looked for it. Truly.

I’m a girl. Among other things, this means that I ask for directions. So today, tired of the growing pile of plastic bag bundles behind my seat in my car, as I checked out, I asked the clerk: “Does Kroger have a plastic bag recycling bin here?”

She said, pointing helpfully, “Yes, it’s white, right out there by the entrance doors.”

Lo and behold, on my way out, just as she had said, it was right there by the entrance doors. Where I had walked past it each time I had entered before. Every. Single. Time.

Can you see the circle of green arrows? That comfortably familiar recycling logo? I had not, either. (It’s hidden on the far side.) I am normally quite observant and felt kinda dumb.

In my defense: 

I had seen the bin and the photo of the child’s face and assumed that it was for children’s clothing for collection by some agency that ministers to the disadvantaged.

The company that provides curbside recycling here does not accept plastic bags; neither does the city of Auburn at the community recycling depot. Assuming again, I was thinking that perhaps Kroger wouldn’t be recycling them, either.  

Finally, most important to my missing the obvious, the bin is round. Not square like the bins back in the old place, which, may I point out, have the recycling logo prominently displayed on all four sides.

And there you have it. Assumptions and my “old place” filters left me unable to adapt.

On the drive home, I got to wondering. In how many ways am I prone to miss something because I wasn’t really looking? How often do I too quickly filter out what is different and challenging? Does my “old place” thinking mean it is harder for me to hear accurately what another is telling me?  Is it too easy for me to let my assumptions serve as barriers to new information?

These patterns can complicate human relationships. My relationships, in fact. These habits also make it harder for me to hear and see well when I encounter God’s word.

Proverbs 2:2 tells us to “make our ears attentive to wisdom and incline our hearts to understanding.” That’s not a promise, but an instruction. Do this. Make our ears and incline our hearts.

I think I need to work on my filters and my inclining. How about you?