Changing Gene – Ch. 9.2

After that morning encounter with Gene, Kylisha breezed through the remainder of the day. She didn’t even mind the long dictation Mitch had her do an hour before closing time.

Although most bosses nowadays hand drafted letters for their secretaries, Mitch preferred to do it the old-fashioned way – through verbal dictation. Fortunately, one of Kylisha’s many clerical skills was shorthand. Just like everything else she did, she performed this current task with finesse, making it look too easy.

After rereading the letter to Mitch, Kylisha lingered in his office. She wanted to discuss a few things he’d talked about during his dictation. Wanted to share an idea she had because of that talk.

“Mr. Rozier, I never knew the history of garbage collecting could be so fascinating,” Kylisha said. “I had no idea that regular door to door collection as we know it didn’t become commonplace until the 1800s. That in medieval times, people actually dumped their garbage in the gutter where sanitation workers would eventually come and retrieve it with horse drawn wagons, shovels, and even brooms.”


“Yes.” Mitch smiled, leaning forward in his seat with elation shining in his eyes. He enjoyed any kind of interest in his often overlooked and underappreciated profession. When a local home-schooling association called for information this afternoon, Mitch had jumped to honor their request. Thus the last-minute dictation.

“But the key word here is eventually,” Mitch continued. “Eventually, as in the workers would take their own sweet time before picking the waste up. This led to some very unsanitary conditions, eventually attracting all kinds of disease, rodents and insects.”

“It must have been pretty stinky, too,” Kylisha replied. “Especially in the summertime. By the way, warmer weather makes it pretty stinky around here also, even though the landfills are miles away,” she added, discreetly bringing up something she recently put in the suggestion box.

Mitch laughed. “I got your suggestion, Kylisha. And yes, we will be washing the trucks more often as it warms up. I put Arnaz in charge of that just today.”

“Thanks, Mr. Rozier.” Kylisha grinned. “I just hope Arnaz won’t be too upset with me for causing him more work.”

“The way that man gushes over you, I doubt he will stay mad for very long,” Mitch replied, smiling his approval of their potential pairing.

Kylisha blushed. “Arnaz is just a friend, Mr. Rozier.” She cleared her throat self-consciously. “Now back to the history of garbage collecting. Did the lack thereof really contribute to the Plague?”


“Yes.” Mitch chuckled before becoming serious again. “For some reason, people couldn’t seem to make the correlation between the trash they left littering the street and the Plague. Finally somebody wised up and spread the word that trash should not only be put in receptacles, but should also be picked up and disposed of on a regular basis. That way, nothing would be left out in the streets to rot and cause disease.”

Just then, Gene appeared at the door. “Sorry to interrupt, but I couldn’t help but stop when I heard you discussing the Plague, one of my favorite sales pitch topics.” The brief look he gave Kylisha suggested that he’d heard much more than that. “Mind if I sit in for the rest?” Gene continued, directing his question to his stepfather.

“Of course not, son. Have a seat.” Mitch waved him in.

Gene grinned and quickly took a seat next to Kylisha.

“Now where was I?” Mitch said. “Oh yeah, I was about to share how people started burning as much of their garbage as they could as an alternative to trash collecting.”

“Which created yet another business opportunity for some fortunate entrepreneurs. In fact, ash removal soon became a common service,” Gene said, bouncing off his stepfather’s comments.

“Only thing was, once people started heating their homes with something other than wood or coal burning stoves, burning garbage became less practical,” Mitch said. “Less lucrative for the ash removal entrepreneur.”

“Fortunately, it paved the way for people like us to step up to the plate,” Gene told Kylisha. “You see, proper garbage removal is vital to any society. Somebody has to do and do it right,” he added, including a part of his regular sales pitch due to its relevancy to the topic.

Kylisha looked in awe of the two men. She could clearly see why they worked so well together. Mitch and Gene had mutual respect for each other’s opinions and intelligence. Kylisha had never seen that trait in any of her close relatives’ relationships. Certainly not among her grandparents.

Mitch, with various inserts from Gene, then went on to explain how city dumps came into being. How in small communities people used to simply bring their trash to a central location, without the help of a collection service. How that became impractical once those same communities began to grow in population. Soon garbage dumps were set up, usually far enough away from people’s homesteads to maintain safety.

“At the dump, it was common to burn much of the refuse to reduce the volume and to kill off any disease upon rotting organic matter,” Gene finished for Mitch.

“But we have incinerators to do that today, right?” Kylisha asked, still fascinated by everything she’d learned thus far. She was so fascinated that having Gene in such close proximity hadn’t rattled her yet.

“Yes, we do,” Mitch replied. “Quick burial is another solution, which, incidentally, is the most common practice in North America. In countries where land is scarcer, such as Japan, incineration is the favored solution.”

“In earlier times, some people foolishly dumped the wastes into the waterways,” Gene added. “And you know how many serious environmental consequences that caused in our rivers, lakes, and oceans.”

Kylisha saw this as the perfect time to reveal her idea. “Hey, why don’t you two co-write some kind of booklet or put up some kind of website on this important topic? That way, home schooling associations, as well as public schools, can have access to this information. Information that, I might add, is very difficult to find in libraries and even on the internet. Believe me, I looked and it is scattered all over the place. Kids need a go-to source for the whole story.”

Kylisha paused and looked from Mitch to Gene and back again. “But more importantly than that, this website and booklet will let everyone know just how valuable your jobs really are. How without people like you and companies like yours, their quality of life would be greatly compromised.”

Gene nodded with approval, while Mitch blinked back tears at such a heartfelt speech.

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard it put quite so eloquently before,” Mitch said, “How does one go about creating such a booklet, setting up a website?”

Kylisha smiled and leaned forward in her chair. “One hires a secretary that knows how to do both.”

“I think you just talked yourself into another raise, young lady,” Mitch replied.

Gene nodded in full agreement. “You’re really something special; you know that, Miss Greene?” Though his voice was professional, the look in his eyes was not.

Kylisha blushed as delicious tingles attacked her body. She couldn’t look away. She was stuck, held captive by Gene’s chestnut pools and her own desires.


Suddenly feeling like the third wheel in his own office, Mitch leaned back in his chair in wonder. How could I have missed that? No wonder Arnaz is ‘just a friend’. She wants Gene! he deduced, continuing to stare at the mesmerized couple.

Despite the fact that Gene was his stepson, Mitch wasn’t sure that he approved of that particular pairing. At least not yet. Perhaps after more fasting and prayer.

© 2006 by Suprina Frazier

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