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Carlos Velarde

QUEEN OF RECYCLING

It was almost the time when she had to leave for her big job of the day. By that time, all the people of the district, or a great majority, would have had all the bags classified by type of waste: plastic, glass, and others that could be used again (recycled). 

For her, it was just any day; she had no idea how much her name would resonate a few hours later. Her everyday assistant who drove her truck, Felipe, was already waiting for her. 
Felipe, did you already talk to all the drivers? She told him when she was getting into the car. Yes, Mrs. Torres, he said. Chepa, please. Ok, Mrs. Chepa Torres.
 

Everyone was already at their positions. She, then, turns to Felipe to give the signal to start. And they all start at the exact time. What order! What punctuality! What an important job! She still remembered as it was yesterday, when she won the tender of the municipality that gave her the total coverage of the district, to develop her humanitarian work. Yes, she thought so, and she was right, her work was for the benefit of humanity. 
In the middle of the path of her first destination at night, she receives a call through Felipe. – Your daughter, Chepita Ríos, is calling you. – What will this little girl want? she thought. It is not time to discuss. – Mom, the girl says. I’ve thought well and I do not want to argue anymore. Excuse me when I told you that you only lived to recycle trash. I realize your great work and I want to go with you from today, to help you in the work that you do daily from 7 o’clock at night. It was not that she was waiting for people to recognize her work, less for her own daughter, with whom she had discussed so much about the excessive time that, according to Chepita, she devoted to her work. She was really shy, but her daughter changing her mind and supporting her, it filled her with such pride she wanted to scream. I’ll pick you up in 20 minutes, she replied to her lovely daughter – what beautiful eyes and what nice hair my Chepita has! 
Not even that time she signed up to clean a beach for a period of 4 hours that left her tired for two days, made her change her mind. She will carry the standard of the recyclers in the parade of the end of the world. 
Then the unexpected happened. A giant spacecraft appeared over the Lima sky, and landed right where Chepa deposited the entire collection of the night with her trucks. Automatically, all the people, around 50, who worked for Chepa, were led into the ship. In the blink of an eye the ship flew and reached its destination, somewhere unknown. 
The aliens were giants. They examined each person and they recognized her. They spoke among themselves (in neutral English) about her recycling work. And they spoke directly to her: 
– “We need you to continue with your recycling work. Neither you nor any in your group will be taken away. We want the good for humanity”. A giant had lifted her and placed her in the palm of his hand, to speak to her. 
– Thank you gentlemen, she told them, almost crying. It’s good that you do not want to destroy us. 
– No, you are destroying the environment and destroying yourselves. If it were not for people like you … 
And one, who seemed to be the boss, added: Besides, if you disappear, with what toys will our children play in the future? 

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