By actual count, there have been eight times in a year and a half of blogging that I've written an entry containing at least one reference to garbage. If I were in therapy, I'd probably want to delve into this subject to discover the source of my fixation with waste and the containers that hold it. Since I don't have a therapist, I'll go ahead and post number nine. If you stick around to read it, you may be as sick as I am.
It's been just over a year since I was so frustrated with my lidless garbage can that I considered sending a letter to the garbage man. The good news is that my son-in-law read that post, and the next time he came over, he drilled holes in the bottom of the can so the rainwater could drain out. The bad news is I never got up the nerve to send that letter. Despite several telephone calls, I've lived with that broken trashcan for another full year.
Monday night is garbage night in this neighborhood, and last Monday was the last time I had to roll that old can to the road. Sometime between last Monday and Saturday afternoon, it disappeared.
I do have a theory about this: It's only been a month since my last phone call to the garbage company to ask for a replacement. The girl who took my call said they were in the middle of an audit, so it might be a while until they could give me a new can, but she assured me she'd put my name on the list. I'm thinking that phone call got some action. The reason I think that is that my next-door neighbor got a brand new garbage can at the same time mine disappeared.
To be honest, hers was in the same shape as mine, and she needed a new can, too. I'd actually considered asking them to bring one for each of us but didn't want to complicate an issue that already seemed too difficult for their comprehension.
I'm trying to think like a garbage-can-delivery-person, so my suspicion is that he (they?) got confused upon finding two cans in my driveway. I live in a two-family home, but it isn't obvious that it's for two families. He would have encountered my beat-up, piece-of-crap can right next to my front-yard neighbor's relatively new one. Six feet away he would have spotted my next-door neighbor's can that was just as bad as mine.
"Hmm," he might have thought. "I see two cans that are ready for the trash-receptacle graveyard. Which one am I supposed to replace? And this other one here looks pretty good. Maybe we already brought a replacement and didn't pick up the old one? (Sometimes this job is really hard. If I'm gonna have to make decisions, they ought to pay me more.) Okay, I got it. I'll replace the one over here across the driveway, take both old ones in, and that'll leave one good can at each location. That ought to keep 'em off my butt."
Or not. I called today to report my missing garbage can. I explained that I'd recently requested a replacement (again) and that a brand-new can showed up next door, a few feet away from mine. The lady on the other end of the line asked one question: "When did you notice the can was missing?"
That's the question I answered: "I noticed it missing on Saturday, but it could have happened earlier in the week."
She put me on hold and came back a moment later: "No, ma'am, he said he didn't pick it up."
Oh, really? "Well, it seems like kind of a coincidence," I said, "that a brand-new can showed up at my neighbor's house exactly when her can--and mine--disappeared. I figured you guys must have delivered the new one, so that's why I assumed you also picked up the old ones."
She stuck to her guns. "Well, he said it wasn't us...but we'll go ahead and send you out a new one tomorrow anyway."
I won't hold my breath. But I am stuck holding two big bags full of trash.
UPDATED 7/24/07: As I expected, no new trash can was delivered today. Ironically, today's mail brought me a brightly colored sticker from my waste management provider -- the sticker that goes on the trash can to show the bill has been paid.