The county website wasn’t very user-friendly; it appeared that different materials had to be trucked to different locations. Figuring out how to do the right thing was above my pay grade, so I called the number (650-363-4718) and left my callback information. Although the voice on the machine didn’t ask for it, I also left my e-mail address. Three days later an appointment arrived in my AOL inbox: 11:45 on Saturday at 32 Tower Road, San Mateo.
I placed partially consumed cans of latex paint, solvents, cleaners, pesticides, sealers, stains, and herbicide in the van. It still wasn’t certain which items they’d take, but this was one project that would be seen through. I was determined make more appointments at different addresses until the van was emptied.
It was a 15-minute drive to 32 Tower Road, in the hills close to the intersection of Highways 280 and 92. Various San Mateo County buildings were also there, constructed before expensive homes were built nearby. Well, those homeowners knew the neighborhood they were buying into.
The workers were dressed from head to toe in white, protected by goggles and gloves. After verifying my appointment, they took every bit of the trash. I offered to help. No, sir, do not step out of the van. Lawyers govern everything we do.
I was pleased with how it all worked out. Not only did I not have to make a trip to another disposal site, the cost was zero. Despite budget cuts and the expense of running the facility, that the service would be free (to residents, not businesses) should have been obvious; the county wants to minimize the temptation to dump toxics in the sewer. Lawyers and economists govern everything we do. © 2009 Stephen Yuen
32 Tower Road