Responsibility means canning life’s foul odors

Kristine Gill

College has taught me a lot. Most important among these lessons has been taking responsibility.

But responsibility comes in many forms. It can mean staying up until three in the morning to finish your homework or using an obscene number of Post-it notes to remind yourself of an important meeting. But responsibility can also mean owning up to your mistakes and taking the heat.

So, a few days after the recycling bin starts piling up and the garbage can spills over, I sometimes act responsibly and take it to the Dumpsters. Sometimes I allow my roommate the satisfaction of acting dutifully and ignore the problem so that she might bask in the glorious light of responsibility.

But my roommate isn’t always there to clean up after me, and I sometimes have to do things myself.

When I came back to my residence hall Wednesday, I knew Stephanie had not been back to the room since she left early that morning. Her bed wasn’t made, and her makeup was still laid out on her desk — telltale signs of her absence. That’s how I knew she could not have caused the odor now permeating the room.

I sniffed around for a few minutes, ruling out various items of clothing and the refrigerator. I hadn’t found the source, but I was too tired to continue the hunt. I made an executive decision and lied down for a nap instead.

Later in the day when Stephanie and I reconvened in the room for a lovely evening of reality television, we decided to further the investigation. I admitted that she must be innocent, but hesitated to take full responsibility just yet. (Ah-ha — our theme!) We quickly decided it was indeed the garbage can that smelled like feet. So I put on the man pants and took care of the trash. Stephanie grabbed a replacement bag for the can, but we encountered a surprising problem. The can itself reeked.

After Stephanie wisely suggested tuna as the possible culprit, she grabbed her phone. This was a job only one man could handle: her highly organized, frighteningly anal and obsessively clean boyfriend, Chad. In a scene straight out of a commercial, Chad stretched out his Mr. Clean bicep and handed me Butcher’s BreakDown XC 40: Odor Eliminator, Fresh. It was a pink-colored, orange-scented hospital cleaner I had only heard rumored. Chad had obtained the odor eliminator from his mother, who worked at a hospital. Now we, too, were fortunate enough to benefit from its mighty powers.

A few spritzes and the eau de tuna stench was instantly replaced with a fresh orangey aroma. My hand shook with the power of 40 XC as my mind raced with possibility. The bottle’s label revealed its mysteriously strong contents: water, viable bacterial cultures and active ingredients exempt from state labeling requirements. I did not understand the strange words, but I understood the immense power.

Awed by the cleaner’s strength, blame was set aside and responsibility forgotten. Thank you twofold, Chad.

(I want to stress that it has not been confirmed that anything I ate and disposed of caused the stench. This has not, and probably cannot, be proven. This is of course in my best interest.)

Kristine Gill is a freshman journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].