Tuesday, 16 January 2007

I must have been an arsonist in a previous life

There is one perk I miss about The Big E. Confidential waste.

At The Big E, as with all major employers subject to all kinds of legislation, there were a series of waste procedures. Chemically contaminated, Biohazardous, Sharps, "Ordinary", Glass, Batteries, Cans and Aerosols, Solid Chemical, Liquid Chemical, Non-Chlorinated Solvents, Chorinated Solvents, special procedures for Mercury waste and, after a few more special ones, Confidential.

The confidential waste was placed in big sacks which would be security shredded by a contractor before being recycled. In this modern age of identity theft, this was an important perk. All my Direct Debit slips, anything with my name and/or address on it, old bank and credit card statements - all this and more was taken to work to be securely destroyed.

Then I bought my own house. And discovered the joys of a working chimney. It was great. I'll admit that my attempts at setting fire to big envelopes densely packed with paper were a non-starter at first, but after I got the hang of it I really looked forward to my burning sessions.

The trick is to avoid dense packing. Let the air in (maybe scrunching the paper up into balls) and you can have hours of fun and keep warm at the same time.

However. My Dad and my brother found a lovely old fireplace being thrown onto a skip by Polish builders and brought it up to me. It's rusted through in places and isn't in working order. Dad screwed it into place over Christmas and now my working chimney is unusable because it's blocked - ironically with a fireplace.

Filling in all these application forms is a drag. I have amassed a collection of half filled in forms, addressed envelopes, cv drafts and all the usual financial stuff that I would usually get rid of with a box of matches. There is now a huge amount of confidential waste which I can't burn. I can't throw it away or recycle it. So I bought a cheap shredder from Partners.

It can't take more than 5 sheets at a time, it overheats if "overworked" (I had to put it in the fridge to make it keep going), it makes a horrendous noise, doesn't keep me warm and frankly isn't half as much fun as setting fire to it all. And, after all that, I've still got to get rid of three large carrier bags of shredded paper. Bummer.