Buzz called me on the phone, and the first thing he said was, “Did you put an empty peanut butter jar in our recycling bin?” He and his wife Pat had just returned from a Florida vacation, and I had been watering their plants and shoveling their driveway while they were away.

“No,” I said.

“Well, there’s a peanut butter jar in our recycling, and we didn’t put it there.”

“Is it Jif?” I asked.

“I think it is,” Buzz replied.

“Had it been washed out or was there still peanut butter in it?”

“It still has some peanut butter in it.”

“I did throw a jar like that away,” I said, “but I did it at home.  I don’t even know where your recycling bin is.”

“Maybe you put the jar in your coat pocket, meant to throw it out at your house, forgot you had it, and then threw it away when you came to our house.”

“No, I have a box next to our washer and dryer where I throw paper, aluminum, glass, and plastic. I take recyclables outside only when the box is full. I wouldn’t have taken out just one jar.”

“Maybe,” Buzz said, “the wind blew a peanut butter jar into our driveway, and you picked it up when you were shoveling.”

“No, that didn’t happen. You must have tossed it before you left.”

“No,” said Buzz.  “I looked in the refrigerator, and our peanut butter is still there.” 

“Why do you keep peanut butter in the refrigerator?” I asked.

“Because the jar says I should.”

“I don’t think it does.” 

“That’s not the point,” Buzz said. “Did you give anyone else the key to our house?”

“Yeah, that’s it,” I replied. “My neighbor wanted to know where he could throw away a peanut butter jar, so I gave him your address and your house key and told him to put it in your recycling bin.”

“Okay, never mind,” Buzz said. “But it gets even weirder. I think that I looked in the recycling yesterday when we first got home, and the jar wasn’t there. Then today it was.”

“So are you thinking,” I said. “a stranger snuck into your house during the night and put a peanut butter jar in your recycling? That would be unusual.”

“You are always talking about synchronicity,” Buzz said. “Is this a synchronicity thing?”

“No,” I replied. “This is an old man thing. You or Pat, probably you, threw it away before you left for Florida, and you just forgot.”  

“But we don’t even buy name brand peanut butter, so the jar isn’t ours.  This is really going to bother me.” 

Steven Simpson