Lunch is served at all of the schools every day: there is always rice, a soup (either a clear soup with vegetables or miso soup), a meat dish, like a piece of fish, and a vegetable dish (which is often mixed with fish). I happen to be a vegetarian now-- not the easiest choice in Japan, which is probably the most fish-obsessed country in the world. But it means that I cannot have school lunch, so I bring my own. And since salads wilt, I keep a bottle of salad dressing in the staffroom fridge. Then, when there's only a few drops of dressing left, I bring another bottle.
You can see where this is heading: fourteen months in, and there's like six little bottles of dressing, most of them with about three drops of liquid dressing and a sort of crusted-on scum. The school nurse and the assistant vice principal had been telling me to get rid of them for about the last two months. Anyway, I was finished with work early (miracle! the contract says 4:30-- I consider myself lucky to be out of there at 5:30-- and today it was 3:45 and I was done!)-- so I just headed for the staffroom sink. I had to ask the assistant vice principal where to put the glass bottles, since he deals with the glass recyclables and metal recyclables generated in the staffroom. (I already knew where to put the staffroom burnable, non-burnable, and three classes of paper recyclables.) He just keeps those recyclables in bins by his desk.
After several trips to his desk to deposit another freshly-clean bottle, he said, "Is that all of them?"
I said, "No, not quite. Actually, this is kind of embarrasing, but a while ago I bought a bottle of lemon dressing, and it was really gross, so I never had it again. I left it in there hoping someone would end up eating it."
"Throw it out!"
"I know, but it's a whole bottle! I feel so bad just ditching it."
"Let me see." He goes over to the fridge, and there just happen to be some sprouts someone left sitting there anyway, so he tries a drop of the lemon dressing on on the sprouts. He pours a drop of the dressing over the sprouts, pops them in his mouth, chews. Thirty seconds later: "You're right, that's really bad."
"I know, right?"
"Straight lemon juice would be better than that. Don't feel bad about throwing it out. --Wait, look at the expiration date. When does this expire?"
"October 29th-- that's today! Sweet! I don't need to feel bad about ditching it all! Shoot, I'm so sorry! I just made you eat almost-expired really gross dressing for nothing!"
"It's OK. Just wash out the bottle and don't worry about it."