Garbage day intrigues me because it’s one day a week when we try to see how much we can get away with. We probably know our local garbage pickup rules (for the most part), but walk around your neighborhood early on garbage day, and you’ll see folks stretching the limits of what is acceptable; sometimes a just a little, other times, “C’mon … really?”
It’s like reverse gambling, using your junk as chips. But instead of wanting more of what you’re putting out on the “table” (i.e, curb), you hope to lose those chips. And much like gambling, if you “win” today, it will give you the confidence to bet more next time. (And I think we all know how that usually plays out.)
Sometimes, our bets are small, like that old, rusty kid’s bike that’s been sitting in the garage for 10 years. Other times, it’s a larger item, like a mattress, full of stains and bedbugs, or the leather recliner that went from the family room when you bought it in 2005, to the basement (six years ago when you got the new sectional), and now you’re hoping and praying for the garbage gods to smile down on you, getting you a big win so you don’t have to figure out how to dispose of it on your own.
I’ve also seen washers and dryers (a good “double-down” bet), copious amounts of insulation (I’m not sure there’s any safe way to dispose of that), tires, file cabinets, gutters and eaves (or at least portions of them), wooden doors, and many, many other things that may or may not fall within the bounds of what is “acceptable garbage” by the standards set forth in some dark, smoky room somewhere far away, in places where only a few people really know what’s going on.
Sometimes, there’s so much stuff in front of someone’s house it looks like they’re playing “Trashcan Texas Hold ‘Em.”
Homeowner (carefully examining his pile of “chips,” which includes a standard-definition TV, 14 random scraps of lumber of various lengths, a broken-down lawn mower, an old Mr. Coffee, a barstool and three couch cushions ... no couch, just the cushions):
“OK … I’m all in,” he says with trepidation, as he walks each item to the curb, hoping and praying when he returns from work, he’ll see his lawn free and clear of all of it. Yet, he knows it’s a huge gamble; he hopes he has a winning hand because his family is depending on him. They need this win. But like any of us who have played this game (and we all have), he just doesn’t know – he can’t know -- if he’s made a good bet until that last card is flipped.
And that’s why it’s called gambling, folks.
I’ve done it, too, thrown something out there, hoping it’ll go, but always entering such an
endeavor with low expectations, like the non-gambler who finds himself in Vegas on a work trip and blows a quick 20 on blackjack just to say he did it, then walks away a little lighter in the wallet but suffering no real pain and anguish because he never expected to win anyway.
In other words, I was OK when that undefined eight-foot steel pole that has been residing in the rafters of our garage since we moved in remained in the yard after the garbage truck made its weekly pass that day not long ago, and with it, passed judgment on me and my junk, which will remain “my” junk until I can figure out how to unload it on my own.
Recently, we received new trash bins officially sanctioned by the local government entity (in cooperation with our village’s waste collection vendor). Now, the rule (I think) is that if it doesn’t fit in the big green bin, “It ain’t goin’ nowhere.” Now, please don’t quote me on that rule because just like all other garbage and recycling collection and remediation rules passed down since I don’t know when, it’s all kind of fuzzy to me.
Nonetheless, since we got the new bins, I see most of my neighbors and others abiding by this rule, and now, it’s interesting to see how people stretch it by jamming stuff into their big green bin that shouldn’t – or doesn’t – fit in it. I see stuff sticking out the top of the receptacle; sometimes way out. I’ve also seen junk placed on top of the closed lid, and the occasional item leaning against the bin, as if to say, “It’s OK, I’m with her.”
So, after all this talk of garbage and betting and bins, this all came into my head after I saw something while walking the dog the other day. And, when I saw it (them, actually) sitting in proximity to the homeowner’s large green garbage bin, my mind immediately crafted a verse about it. And so, without further ado, here it is:
They sit quietly, majestically,
two alabaster heroes, icons against a backdrop of freshly fallen snow.
White on white.
It is therapeutic, compelling the eye and the mind to create color on its own,
a blank canvas waiting for a masterpiece.
The low, early-morning light embosses them against the crisp, clean overnight snow.
A seal, an imprint of something intentional and important.
Two thrones, sitting in public, but not public toilets,
retired after a long, fulfilling life serving others,
waiting to go to their final resting place.
The next morning, as I drove past that house, the toilets were gone. But where they went and how they got there remained a mystery because I still don’t know all the rules about garbage pickup in my community.
I hope for their sake – and their former owner’s as well – they ended up in a good place, and that my neighbor didn’t need to hump them into his car and take them away himself, just as I hope that the next time I roll the proverbial garbage dice, luck will go with me.
© 2020 David R. Haznaw