Saturday, September 19, 2009

Trash Talk

Friday is trash day around these parts. And boy is it ever welcome.

Since Lauren was born, we haven't ever used a diaper genie for her disposable diapers, instead choosing to just put them directly into the big trash can in the garage. It saves on one more plastic bag to buy and throw away, plus the hassle with changing out the liners is forgone. It's just easier without the genie, in my opinion. But what that means is that our large trash can in the garage becomes quite foul by the end of the week - or by day 2 during the hot summer months. Considering that we don't have much in the way of actual trash, as we recycle most things, food garbage is the main component in our trash bin. Garbage + Dirty Diapers = A Pure Terror of Scent. As in, walking past the trash can to get to the car makes me want to fall down and gag and scream at the same time. Definitely not heavenly.

Many times on trash day, I've snuck a look out the door as the trash truck comes rumbling down our street, waiting to see the reaction of the garbage collector - surely our can is the stinkiest he's ever encountered. I wait for him to make a face or fall over dead in the street when hit in the face by the odor of this household's refuse. Surprisingly, he doesn't even seem to notice. I've decided that sanitation engineers must go through extensive training so as not to be susceptible to the certain painful death which would await them from the stench they encounter on a daily basis. This is the only reasonable explanation as to why they can endure the awful garbage cans all over the city. Especially ours.

It was pouring down rain a few Friday mornings ago when I noticed that our across-the-street neighbor's trash cans had been washed down to the dead end by the gushing water at the edge of the street, and spilled their contents along the way. Trash was everywhere. It wasn't a terrible mess - the bags were still intact, but a few large things that hadn't been bagged were strewn about. Not to mention the can itself was almost hidden in the underbrush at the end of the road. The garbage collector had already dumped our terrifyingly stinky trash can and was setting to work gathering the cans of our neighbors when I realized that he probably wouldn't notice the missing trashcan, nor would he be required to gather any of the unbagged things. Plus, like I mentioned before, it was pouring. I suddenly felt bad for both him and my neighbors - him for having to deal with such a mess, if he chose to, and the neighbors because what if they came home to leftover, sodden trash that wasn't collected all because of a freak rainstorm?

Before I could think it through all the way, I dashed outside and began picking up what I could. We have wonderful neighbors, and I know they'd have done the same for us if something similar had happened. As I ran around in the pouring rain, I hoped the collector wouldn't drive away before I could alert him to my task. I thought he'd appreciate the help during the deluge, but I also didn't want to have him leave before all the trash had been gathered. Thankfully, he seemed grateful - not frustrated at having to pause in the middle of the rainy street to pick up trash that, contractually speaking, he didn't have to pick up. Holding my breath each time I approached the rear of the truck, I wondered just how bad that thing would smell. But I wasn't dumb enough to breathe freely and find out. The trash collector and I exchanged a few words around the noise of the rain and the compactor, and that was the end of it. I ran back inside to dry myself off.

(Believe me when I say that I am no angelic neighbor. We have screaming kids in the back yard, grass that grows to frightening levels before it gets mowed, a front garden in a disarray of weeds and dead plants - I often am afraid to know what the neighborhood might think of us. And I'm not telling you this story to get accolades for a deed well-done; my neighbors never knew this happened and I'd be embarrassed for them to find out, because then I'd face the task of accepting praise or thanks - and for some strange reason, these things intimidate me. Rather, I wanted to illustrate how rough I think it must be to be a garbage collector - especially when faced with households like ours which provide exceptionally disturbing levels of olfactory abuse - as well as set the scene for a post later this week - The Day We Forgot About Trash Day. *shudder*)

I can only pray that I'll never get that close to the stinky underbelly of public services, ever again. God bless sanitation engineers.

What an awful job, eh?


  1. We do the same thing with our dirty diapers... Right into the dumpster outside the door.

    My gag reflex is way.too.strong. to handle a job like that. I think I'd be fired the first day after the complaints from customers who found vomit next to their empty trash cans...

  2. I am seriously thinking about getting rid of the diaper gene as well. Some nights (with my over active pregnancy nose) I nearly gag just walking into my house. I swear that thing stinks up the whole house! I would much rather a stinky outdoor trash on the side of my house. But would I be too lazy to go outside EVERY TIME and throw it away??? Maybe I will do a practice run before totally getting rid of the gene.
    I would save so much money on those stupid refill bags!

  3. when we lived in california i swear we had the stinkiest garbage ever. I also felt so bad for the garbage collectors who cheerfully collected our babies mind you this was after being baked in the 100+ degree sun for a week. the whole neighborhood stunk from our

    here its different in PA. there is no real garbage collection! weird. They are allowed about 2 small bags a week from some guy who personally takes stuff to a dump. my mom is in the country and they just burn their garbage. i have even burned we take recycles to a center. call a large collection truck once a year for large items and burn the rest.

  4. We gave our Diaper Genie the boot too! Luckily, our trash can sits behind the house so I rarely have to cross paths with it beyond adding to its contents.

    I had to laugh when you pondered what the neighborhood might think of you; we are literally the youngest family on the block and the ONLY one with kids. Our elderly neighbors seem tickled by the constant array of toys strewn all over and our disaster of a yard, but I secretly think they cringe when they drive by ;)

  5. We recently moved to a VERY small town, and there is NO public trash pickup here. Every family must fend for themselves. (There is a trash company that goes around once a week and collects bags that have stickers on them. Stickers one can purchase at the grocery store for FIVE DOLLARS each. That's right - per bag.) God, I miss having trash collectors!

  6. Good for you for not having a lot of trash. We recycle too, but we still end up with a good amount. Do you have a garbage disposal in your sink. That might help. Not with the diapers, but with the food garbage....just an idea..

  7. Your yard is nowhere near as bad as you made it sound! Silly! I know what you mean about the trash stench, though. When you start thinking nobody else's could possibly be worse than yours, just think of someone with twins...twice the stinky diapers in the same amount of time! Feel better?

  8. We don't have a Diaper Genie either and our trash smells RANK. I don't envy the trash collector's their job either!


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