Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Word to the Wise: Debris

Remember that scene in “The Graduate” when Benjamin Braddock, played by Dustin Hoffman, has just returned home from graduating college and his parents threw him a party attended by all their friends?  This is of course the set up for the infamous affair between Benjamin and Mrs. Robinson, the wife of one of his dad’s friends, played ever so lasciviously by Anne Bancroft.   

But I digress.

At the party, Benjamin’s dad’s friends each take their turns offering advice to the graduate, no doubt sincerely hoping to steer him toward success.  One of those well-wishers corners Benjamin near the pool and with drink in hand, sways forward and says, “I’ve got just one word for you….”  Dramatic pause.  Tension.  Benjamin leans in, waiting.  What’s the word?  “Plastics.” 

A beat, as they say in screenplay speak.  Benjamin’s blank stare tells all.  The import of the message is lost on our obtuse friend.  Clearly, Benjamin will fail to take advantage of the insider advice to invest in plastics.  Indeed, where might each of us be today if we’d heeded that advice ourselves back in 1967? 

I offer this as a cautionary tale for folks who may not at first divine the value of today’s headlines and their future impact.  I’ve got one word for you.  Make note.  Here it is:  Debris.

I’m no insider, but I can see the flotsam on the water, the jetsam in the sky, and the graffiti on the wall.  Debris looms.  We can line up with Chicken Little, or prepare now to exploit it.  

To wit:  A giant field of floating debris slides across the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  Yes, an island of garbage twice the size of Texas, comprised of more than 300,000 cars, boats, buildings, refrigerators, lumber, furniture, futons, and Frisbees is drifting toward us in the aftermath of the Japanese tsunami.  For perspective, consider that US Navy ships have to steer clear of this isle of refuse!  And it's moving faster than scientists expected it would. Ocean currents could sweep it onto the West Coast by next year. 

Add to that the fact that the great beltway above our heads is awash with the wreckage of spent satellites and the deceased carcasses of redundant rocket boosters.  That’s right.  NASA scientists report that twenty-two thousand objects large enough to track from earth circle ominously above us, along with countless chunks of space rubble sizeable enough to put a dent in the dome of the cavalier.  In an intergalactic counterpart to the aforementioned ocean-going vessels, the International Space Station has to maneuver around this cosmic clutter!  What’s more, the junk is beginning to wobble, leave orbit, and fall to earth.  

But even though the tide seems to have turned and the sky is in fact falling, the astute can position themselves now to make a wad o’ cash on the trash that’s headed our way.  The word indeed is debris.

Some will no doubt scoff.  “Debris!?” they’ll say.  “What falderal!  Why I might as well put my money on Barak Obama!”  As you wish, oh skeptics, and doubters, and all ye of little faith.  Just don’t say I didn’t tell you.

Who’s most likely to capitalize on the imminent influx of rubble?  The pragmatic.  The no-nonsense, logical, realistic, roll-up-your-sleeves, down-to-earth dynamos.  Action-oriented achievers:  Storage warriors, American Pickers, and hoarders of all ilk can convert the sows ears we’re about to be showered with into silk purses of every amalgamation.  Those “design on a dime” folks can count this as a windfall, scavenging for the shabby chic and turning tsunami trash into treasure.  
Mothers of teenage sons are uniquely qualified to work the frontlines at landfall.  They stand poised with the proficiencies required to turn tons of twaddle into masses of moola.  They are after all adept at collecting, categorizing, cleaning, and creating utility out of chaos.  They can already hold their breaths for extended periods of time while sorting and typing items of value unrecognizable to the childless and uninitiated.   

As for me, I’m putting my money in cranes, bulldozers, landfills, recycling plants, and alternative energy.  Or, envisioning a giant bonfire along the 800-mile California coast, one might make money in hotdogs and s’mores. 

Oh yes, there's a buck to be made in debris.  Just remember the word and where you heard it first.  
Act now to avoid disappointment and future regret.