People often comment on the many hats I wear running a recycling company, but it might be more accurate to say that I wear many clothes.
Allow me to present to you a typical day in my life. Not too long ago, I was scheduled to meet with a group of scientists with the forest service. Knowing that it was a group of all women, I figured I would fit right in wearing a skirt, right? Wrong. When I showed up, they were all wearing jeans. No matter. I would have the opportunity to redeem myself at the next meeting of the day—at a metal sales company. I put on the jeans and clog hopper shoes I had packed and showed up ready to do business. This time, they were all in button downs and dress pants. Fortunately, they overlooked my fashion faux pas, attempted to further adorn me with a hard hat and a vest, and gave me a tour of the facilities.
The next stop of the day was a trip to the Green Girl Recycling warehouse to bail shredded paper from our document destruction services. To keep the resulting confetti out of my clothes and hair, I usually put on a pair of heavy-duty overalls…and a raincoat.
After that, it was time to sort through the electronics, so I threw off the raincoat and got to work hucking electronics into the huge gaylords. Add one weight belt to the outfit and a bandana (optional) to catch the sweat.
Next, it was off to pick up my oldest son from school, but not before a quick run to another business meeting where I would find myself diving through the company dumpster in order to see how much recyclable waste they were paying a trash company to remove three times every week. On went the heavy-duty work boots, thick gloves, protective eyewear, and, of course, a trash bag in order to collect a sampling of the many items that were not actually trash—but valuable and useful recyclable materials. (Turns out there were quite a lot!) Remove gloves and eyewear, and add cute, frumpy hat to hide mussed up hair and lip gloss (I’m allowed lip gloss, right?) for the meeting with the manager to explain that they could reduce their trash content by 90% and save money by letting us remove the rest.
I picked up my son from school—after a careful glance in the mirror to make sure I didn’t have anything offensive stuck to the front of my shirt, that is—and headed home where I was promptly informed by my two-year-old son that the ponytail in my hair was unacceptable (“Mommy, hair down!”)…which just goes to show that no matter how hard I plan, I just can’t please everybody.
I’m not really sure what to do with this daily fashion conundrum yet, although it would seem that I am not going to be off the hook any time soon. Even the night that I dressed up in a little black dress, stockings and heels to receive a “Women Who Light Up the Community Award” and spoke to a group of hundreds of women ended with a call from one of my employees summoning me to the side of the road under a broken down truck that was smoking and trying to catch fire. Those stockings, as you may well imagine, proved unforgiving.
I have considered packing a giant suitcase and hauling it around with me in the truck for those times when something comes up that has slipped through the cracks of my morning check-in with the day planner—kind of a Crazy Recycling Businesswoman Survival Wardrobe Kit. Maybe I’ll just write a handbook for other women in similar circumstances…or better yet, start a side business offering personalized consulting on the matter (“Always wear a scarf, dear. It will cover up the rust stains.”).
In the meantime, though, I’ll be racing around doing my daily quick change acts. If you happen to catch a glimpse of me wearing coveralls over black heels and a skirt sticking embarrassingly out the back wrapped somewhere around my neck…you’ll understand why. My best advice? Just smile and nod.