Monday, September 21, 2009

The Day We Forgot About Trash Day

This post is a continuation of my previous Trash Talk post. Yes, I've dedicated two posts to garbage - welcome to This Heavenly Life!

In my new found respect for garbage collectors, I forgot one main point: they can't pick up what is not there.

One Friday a couple of weeks ago, we faithfully delivered the trash to the curb. Strangely enough, none of our neighbors had their cans out...like they had all gotten a memo about trash service and we'd not been included. Since I choose to reside in an idealistic world, I left our garbage on the curb thinking that we'd been the only house who'd remembered trash day. Those poor neighbors of ours...how coincidental that they'd all forgotten on the same day. But not us, nosiree. Only, by the end of the day, our trash was still there, soaking up the sunshine and attracting an impressive swarm of flies.

Then it dawned on me: there'd been a holiday that week. Monday was Labor Day, therefore the trash schedule had been pushed back a day to accommodate for the garbage collectors' vacations. This happened with every holiday. And I forgot about it on every holiday.

The trash would be collected Saturday instead, so Justin hauled our cans back into the garage overnight for fear of having it destroyed by roaming animals. Not that I could imagine anything with working nostrils wanting to come within 50 feet of the stuff.

When Saturday morning came, Justin and I spent it lazily playing with the girls. In the midst of breakfast and cartoons and showers and hide-and-seek, the garbage collector came and went - without our garbage. Our trash cans still sat in our garage, festering in all their malodorous glory, while the trash truck passed us by.

We were devastated. Terrified. There was no way we could haul the trash in our car to a dumpster - the consequences to the car's clean-smelling interior would be unbearable. Assuming that the driver could even make it past the mailbox without keeling over from the noxious combination of diapers and rotting food fumes, which didn't seem likely. Our only choice was to wait another week, filling up a separate garbage can in the meantime. Doubling the smell. Ugh.

I consider it an act of divine intervention that the garage door broke the same weekend, causing us to abandon the garage altogether until it could be repaired. At least we didn't have to walk past the trash cans every time we needed to take a drive, but still...

Last Friday, trash day rolled around again. With no holidays in sight to mess up the schedule, Justin and I both made sure to remember that the trash desperately needed to go out. Usually, Justin hauls it to the curb on his way out the door for work at around 7:15. The 'rules' state that the trash needs to be at the curb by 6AM, but we've never had it out that early and haven't ever seen the trash truck before 8AM. Usually, it's more like 9 or 10.

As I stepped out of the shower around 7 o'clock while Justin finished up his morning handsome-making-routine, I heard the distinct sound of a reversing trash truck: beep-beep-beep. Being at the end of a dead end, our garbage collector always backs down our block rather than trying to turn around in driveways. Justin and I exchanged glances of horror - the TRASH! IT WAS STILL IN THE GARAGE!

Hoping we'd heard wrong, I ran to the front door while still wrapped in my towel - dripping wet. I was prepared to run outside with no clothes on and my towel flapping around me if I needed to, but PRAISE THE LORD I didn't need to. The trash truck was nowhere to be seen, and the beeping was coming from a few streets south. I wiped my nervous brow in relief - we were still safe. Justin pulled our - now doubly disgusting - garbage to the road, as usual.

But then I looked at our neighbors' houses. Some of them looked like they'd dragged their empty trash cans back up their driveways...there were no errant trash bags waiting on curbs...some cans were laying on the grass, looking for all their worth like they'd been tossed there after being emptied by the garbage collector.

Had the garbage collector come early?! Surely not. Surely I was wrong.

Again, I was cautiously optimistic - I couldn't see into all of the trash cans lining our streets, for all I knew there were bags in the bottom. Maybe the neighbors had a low garbage week. Maybe a few of them had forgotten to set their cans out, instead of already having pulled them back home.

Maybe it was time for me to face the facts.

The more I assessed the neighborhood evidence, the more I was convinced that we'd missed the boat again. Oh, my poor nose. Oh, the poor garage. Oh, that awful garbage collector. How could he have come so early? Didn't he have any respect for tradition? All my thoughts of camaraderie with the plight of garbage collectors had vanished quicker than you could say PEE-YOO.

I nearly cried. My mom (who stops by every morning before work) (Yes, I am aware of my good luck in mothers.) tried to shore me up with optimism, but I was SURE we'd missed our trash being picked up by a few measly minutes. I was inconsolable in a whiny, gripey, altogether annoying way.

At the peak of this melodrama, when my mom was probably ready to back slowly towards the door and a return to sanity, I heard something.

Something large.

Something beeping.

The trash truck! I watched as it backed down our block and stopped in front of my driveway. I watched as the garbage collector jogged over to my trash cans (not even fainting at the God-Awful smell - bless his heart) and dumped their terrifying contents into his rumbling truck. I watched as he drove up the block - stopping at none of the other houses.

He'd come back for my trash, alone.

Do you think he remembered the day I helped him pick up the contents of a neighbor's overturned trash cans?

Do you think he knew he was a bit early, and that we (almost) always have trash at the curb when he arrives?

Do you think it was just my imagination?

Do you think it's sanitary to leave a plate of cookies and thank you note on top of our garbage can this week?

8 comments:

  1. God bless your trash guy. What a cool story.

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  2. Oh what a great story. Thank you for visiting my blog, I'm definitely staying here! Yay!

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  3. Hilarious. Old fermenting trash truly IS a tragedy to have to endure.

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  4. What an inspiring story! I think you should definitely leave him the cookies.

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  5. Oh, my, Sarah...this is absolutely hilar. I love that you thought the other neighbors had forgotten...poor souls. ;)

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  6. How nice of your garbage collector to come back just for you! And how nice to think of leaving him cookies! You could have cookies ready one morning to take out to him & his driver when they get to your driveway - it would be a pity if gift cookies sitting out waiting were inadvertently tossed in with the trash!

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  7. That EXACT same thing happened to us the week of Labor Day!

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Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?