Saturday, March 29, 2008

Trash Talk

It never fails. If I put my garbage out a minute late, at 7:01, the garbage truck will have already come and gone by 7:00. If I'm a really good girl and remember to put my garbage out at 6:30 or even the night before, the truck will take its time and arrive at 9:00 or 10:00. This is called ... The Law of the Sadistic Garbage Truck.

This morning (one of my more alert ones), I glanced at the clock while I was doing my eBaying, threw the cat off my lap and a robe around myself, and dashed outside to set my garbage can firmly at the end of my driveway at 6:45. Whew. I happily checked off the first item on my list of Monday tasks.

Around 8:30 (refer to law in paragraph one), coming back from driving my daughter to school, I saw the garbage truck on my street and waved as I passed -- half in thanks for letting me drive around them, and half in embarrassment and apology that I have, with four dogs and two cats, the most vile garbage in the neighborhood. But later, when I went to bring my garbage can back up to the house, I noticed a certain little problem -- my garbage was still in it. I called the garbage company right away. Here, in drastically abbreviated but highly accurate form, is the conversation between me (E) and the garbage company guy (GCG):

E: Your truck just came down my street, but they didn't take my garbage. I'm wondering if there's a problem with my bill.
GCG: What's your name?
(I gave my name and waited as he scanned some list.)
GCG: I don't see anything.
E: You don't see my name or you don't see a problem?
GCG: I don't see a problem with your bill.
E: Then why didn't my garbage get picked up?
GCG: I don't know. I'll have to ask him.
E: Okay.... (long awkward pause) What happens then? Will someone call me?
GCG: If he missed it, he'll come back.
E: (second pause as I think about this) He DID miss it. I had my garbage out at 6:45 and I saw the truck come around 8:30. He missed it.
GCG: I'll have to ask him. If he missed it, he'll come back.
E: (louder voice) He DID miss it. I ran out in my robe at 6:45 and put my garbage out. I saw the truck come at 8:30. He missed it.
GCG: If he missed it, he'll come back.
E: (louder, staccato) He DID miss it. I put it out at 6:45. The truck came at 8:30. I'm not lying. I can go out to my garbage can right now, lift up the lid, and see my garbage still in there. He missed it.
GCG: If he missed it, he'll come back.
E: (pause as I begin to feel dizzy) Okay. When will he come back?
GCG: Oh ... possibly sometime this afternoon. Maybe by two or three.
E: So someone will tell him that he didn't pick up my garbage?
GCG: If he missed it, he'll come back.
E: (loudest voice yet) Are you telling me that, after six hours and hundreds of houses, he's suddenly going to hit himself in the forehead and remember he didn't pick up my garbage way back at 8:30? It's just suddenly going to dawn on him?
GCG: If he missed it, he'll come back.
E: (pacing now, feeling the possible need to be institutionalized) But how will he know he missed it? The main thing about missing something is that you don't know you missed it, right? If you miss something, you don't know you missed it, or you wouldn't have missed it....
GCG: If he missed it, he'll come back....

By now, visions of Kevin Costner and Field of Dreams were circling inside my head (not to mention Eva Gabor and Arnold Ziffle). Obviously, we were having a major communication breakdown. I imagine I should have been more patient and understanding. I'm sure the garbage company guy had to field many a call from customers who were only claiming that the garbage truck had missed them. But I wasn't one of them. I admit (see paragraph one) when I don't get my garbage out in time.

Well, he was right. The truck came back around 2 p.m. and took my garbage away, probably because they didn't feel like dealing with another phone call from me. But it's possible that the driver really did come back on his own, that he suddenly remembered my one missed garbage can six hours later, noticing that his rounds had been just a little more pleasant that morning, that the truck was lacking a distinctive, hideous smell.

written Winter 2008

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