A Letter from the Department of Sanitation

Dear Mr. Iddings,

Thank you for your correspondence with the Englewood Department of Sanitation (DOS) to address your recent citing for Improper Disposal of Emotional Waste – Citation AJ21K77. As we hope you’ll agree, the department’s addition of Emotional Services has had great positive impact on Englewood and has led to an improvement in property values and decreased noise pollution.

Unfortunately, the DOS denies your request to appeal your citation, on the grounds of Reckless Expression. The fine of $187.00 will stand, to be applied to the therapeutic cost of rehabilitating the afflicted worker. As per negotiations with the Sanitation Workers Union – AFSCME Local 499, all emotional waste must be clearly labeled and double-bagged to prevent accidental exposure. Overflowing joy, spilled secrets and thrown-away cares can cause long-lasting and confusing side effects if not properly contained. If your waste had been correctly labeled, this situation might have been avoided entirely.

Your Grief, as identified by our staff psychologists, is not considered a recyclable according to City Statute 11.4.32. The DOS acknowledges that its cyclical nature may be misleading, but Grief must be disposed of in the regulation PermaSeal bags for elimination only. Your incorrect “Peace of Mind” label, while perhaps personally resonant, was a direct infringement of the Self-Knowledge and Honesty Agreement signed upon your acceptance of Emotional Services. As per this agreement, the DOS is not responsible for the personal misunderstanding of feelings.

Should you care to know, the afflicted worker processing your Grief is stalled in Stage 3, and frequently attempts to bargain his corrective medications for “one more hour with my Katydid.” Ridding the body of alien emotions is an unpredictable road to recovery. In the future, please contact the DOS Emergency Hotline if you notice mood swings in your neighborhood sanitation team. The DOS employee database is available online with updated character profiles, should you require a point of reference.

In the case that your Grief was mistakenly discarded, the DOS regrets that wasted emotions are not stored or preserved in any way. For this reason, we are unable to fulfill your inquiry into the disposed affection of Mrs. Katherine Iddings. The DOS transports all unwanted emotions to the Englewood Municipal Feelings Dump, where citizens are welcome to search for purpose, their sense of decency, or otherwise try to find themselves from 10am – 3pm daily, with the proper permit to be obtained in person at Englewood City Hall. In light of the severity of your and Mrs. Iddings’s having lost that loving feeling, and acknowledging the unlikelihood of rediscovery, the $55.00 permit fee shall be waived upon presentation of this letter.

We thank you for being an inaugural participant in the Englewood Department of Sanitation’s Emotional Waste Services, and regret this misunderstanding. Please remit your payment of $187.00 by check or money order in the included pre-addressed envelope to ensure your sanitation services will continue uninterrupted, and prevent any outbursts of bottled up emotions that may affect the community.

Natalie Fitzker, DOS Director of Emotional Accounts

Jennifer Ahlquist is a Philadelphia-based writer with a background in theater and copywriting. Her work has previously been featured on Storychord.com, and she is currently working towards completing a collection of very short fiction.

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