Sometimes I long for the days when my feces had no monetary value. When it just was what it was: shit, crap, waste. But nothing is waste anymore. At first I was all for it. I mean, what could be greener than energy that comes from human waste? They promised it would revolutionize the world. And it did. It totally did.
At first, it was just the animals. Nothing new there. We’ve found ways to exploit animals since Adam and Eve got kicked out of the garden. But when the methanol companies learned that it was far easier to gather and manage human waste than animal waste, the human animal became the focus of exploitation.
When the methanol companies began doing business with city sanitation departments, our utility bills began to shrink. As more and more cities began to use methane energy in their grids, our energy bills began shrinking as well. My jaw dropped the first time I actually received a check instead of a bill. The game was changing, that much was clear. Suddenly, my shit didn’t stink so bad; in fact, it was smelling sweeter every day.
Then one day, I compared numbers with a friend at work. His check was much larger than mine. He was just as surprised as I was. Neither of us had read the fine print that came with the checks we were receiving. What we learned changed our lives. The amount of money we received from the energy company was based on the kilowatts per hour that our homes were generating for the city. Each house’s main sewage drain pipe had been fitted with a meter that could measure the quantity and quality of fecal material leaving the house; quality being measured by the level of methanogens in the feces.
My friend, being a Catholic, had five children. I only had two. His household was producing a higher quantity of feces than mine. This meant that to compete with my friend’s household, we would need to produce more feces and more methane potency in our feces.
We, as a nation, were now being paid money to eat more, eat poorly, and have more children. And now, I can’t even afford to do anything else. The prices are just too good. I’ve been working full-time at the methanol plant for six months now. It’s not so bad. At least our collection cubes are private, not like the ones in India. It’s comfortable. Mine even has a video gaming system and I can watch all the movies and shows I want. The food doesn’t taste too bad either. I just miss being a teacher some days. It was a hard job, but at the end of the day, I felt like I’d given something valuable. It’s funny, I used to get a little burned out and say, “Today, I just don’t give a shit!” And now, no one would ever even consider just giving a shit….not with today’s prices.