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Bill Wolf: The weighty burden of being Number 001

To the editor:

This past July’s visit to Amherst’s Public Works Department office on South Pleasant Street changed my life. July is the time to renew the annual transfer station automobile sticker, which enables the user to recycle materials at the Route 9 landfill facility.

What transpired this time that became so noteworthy?

The number on my new sticker was 001. Without any fanfare, I became the town’s transfer station Numero Uno. The burden of such responsibility soon became apparent.

My weekly visits to recycle material at the station attracted the attention of other citizens at the facility. People watched as I unloaded my recyclables and then commented upon my action. “Good job! Did you place the cardboard in the correct place? Should that banjo be placed in the ‘put and take’ area?” Such comments and questions typified the feedback and were a harbinger of things to come.

What happened next was certainly unexpected and proved to be most disconcerting. People noticed the 001 in my automobile’s rearview mirror as I parked beside Kelly’s Restaurant, Big Y and CVS, concluded that I was someone special, and then engaged me in conversation.

Was I for or against the Retreat, the proposed North Amherst student housing development? Or, is it time for Scott Brown to become a candidate for the nation’s highest office? I was not prepared to respond to such questions meaningfully, thus disappointing the inquirers. Time spent online using Wikipedia increased geometrically week after week as I tried to fill in obvious knowledge and information deficiencies. My self-confidence and self-respect plummeted.

I could not measure up to the lofty expectations associated with the 001 designation. My car was sold last week and a scooter serves as my primary means of transportation. There is no transfer station sticker on my scooter’s handlebar.

Bill Wolf


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