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Something Smells

The following is a work of fiction based on true events.

Longtime Village Resident Stunned By Garbage Collection Snafu

By David Haznaw

Times-Picayune Bugle Courier Staff Writer

A local woman was left holding the bag – the trash bag, that is -- Thursday morning, and now, she must contemplate what’s next for herself and her family.

Jacqueline Frederickson says her life changed in a matter of moments as she pushed her garbage cart to the curb at approximately 7:45 a.m.

“It’s my Thursday routine,” said Frederickson, 56, who has lived in the village all her life and prides herself on being in the know. “I set my routine by the pulse of the village,” she said. “Every morning, I get up, let out the dog to do to his morning ‘duty,’ and then I tackle whatever is next on my list, which on Thursdays means taking the garbage out to the curb.”

Frederickson, who’s known as “Jacqui” by those closest to her, said garbage pickup usually occurs between two and three p.m., but she likes to get her bins out early. “Then, it’s done, and I can check it off the list,” she said.

But this week, Jacqui’s life was turned upside down when the garbage pickup schedule had apparently changed without notice, and by the time she got her bin to the curb, the truck had already serviced her block.

“I found out from my neighbor, Dale,” said a visibly shaken Frederickson as she pointed across the street. “He was coming down to retrieve his bin to push it back to the garage. He simply said …” Frederickson paused as she tried hold back tears. “I’m sorry. Anyway, he said, ‘Jacqui, they came early today. You missed it.’ I was shocked, and now I’m not sure what I’m going to do. I guess I’ll just have to wait for next week and hope for the best.”

Dale Manchester, the neighbor who gave Frederickson the news, was sympathetic, but said he knew something like this might occur. “It’s happened to all of us at one time or another,” said Manchester, 71. “I like Jacqui. I’ve even taken in her mail when she and Ed (Frederickson’s husband) are on vacation. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told her to put that bin out the night before because you never know what’s going on behind the scenes. Things change, and sometimes we’re the last to know.”

Another neighbor, who requested anonymity, shared Manchester’s view of the situation. “I heard Dale yell to her this morning,” she said. He told her, ‘You just missed it.’ You need to get on top of this stuff, and unfortunately, she tends to roll the dice. She does it with the recycling too, and I’ve seen it, time and time again. I dare say it borders on reckless behavior.

“She’s got to learn, and sometimes, you have to learn the hard way. I’d like to say it’ll never happen again, but who knows? It’s a shame, just a shame.”

Meanwhile, Frederickson must live with her mistake – and her trash -- for another week before she can claim redemption. “It’s going to smell,” she said, barely containing her emotions. “There’s onion peels in there and a whole week’s worth of Buster’s doo-doo.” An eerie calm came over her, masking a pall of overwhelming sadness and disappointment. “I mean, I double-bag the stuff that really smells, but that only gets you so far.”

She continued: “You know, this morning I broke my routine, and instead of getting the garbage to the curb right away, I decided to put in a load of laundry first thing. I thought, what could it hurt, right? The truck must have come through when I was in the basement. I never heard it. It was that break in my routine, that five lousy minutes, that made the difference; the difference between happiness and … this. Now, I have to pay the price for my mistake.”

As Frederickson slowly pushed her full garbage bin back up the driveway toward her garage, she heard a familiar rumble. It was the garbage truck, making its way down Bluejay Lane two blocks away. Buster barked.

“Don’t yell at him Buster, it’s not his fault,” Frederickson told the overweight bulldog, who promptly defecated on the lawn, next to a yard sign reading “Fill Your Day With Sunshine.”

As she made her way back to the garage, Frederickson wondered how she would break the news to Ed. “It’ll hit him hard, but I’m hoping he’ll understand,” she said. “Marriages go through rocky times. We’ve weathered storms like this before, and I’m sure we’ll get through it. But it won’t be easy.”

When contacted by phone, a representative of the local waste management company declined to comment on the situation.

© 2022 David R. Haznaw

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