Thursday, August 7, 2014

Talking Trash . . . or, (Dazed and Confused)

Remembering back when I was a kid (In the fifties. Yes, that WAS a long time ago) trash was a real simple deal.  Dad brought home an old fifty-five gallon used oil drum from the place he worked, set it up in the back-yard, and we burned the daily trash and garbage.  The drum would last for about a year or so and then it would get holes burned through and Dad would bring home another one. It was kind of fun, especially if there was a big load and you could get a real nice fire going.  In the winter you could warm your hands by it while you waited for it to burn down (which we always did for safety because we weren't a bunch of morons). When I was old enough Mom and Dad trusted me to do it on my own.
     There was even some life lessons to be learned by a kid standing alongside the burning trash.  My pet hamster (Herbie) died one day. When Dad got home from work he gave me two choices.  One, dig a hole in the frozen ground to bury Herbie or burn him with the trash. To tell you the truth, I'm kind of lazy and never was a real big Herbie fan, because he was a biter, so I chose the Viking method of disposal.  I even added some old scrap wood to make him a real nice pyre, and up he went.  I watched the whole thing until the furry little guy turned to hamster toast, and then crumbled into dust.  It was a good demonstration of the fragility of life and the remorseless nature and finality of death, and all that jazz.  It was a sad day when trash burning was outlawed, but I guess it was bound to happen.
     Next the City made everyone buy one or two of those nice shiny aluminum garbage cans.  It was about time to become a little more green.  I guess they were right about that, but I sure missed the nightly fires. You stuffed everything you could into them and once a week hauled them out to the street (Tuesday night if I remember right) and Viola!, the next morning the garbage man made them disappear. Everybody back in those simple times just called them garbage men. "Sanitation Engineers" hadn't been thought up yet. It was a good system. It worked.  Since it worked, it had to be done away with. That's evolution I guess. Darwin's theory of survival of the trashiest. Kind of like a lot of stuff you see on TV.
     The next step was the recycling craze that began in the seventies.  Again, pretty straight forward and easy to understand.  Garbage in one can, recyclables in the other.  It was a big leap - but hey, I'm a smart guy. I figured I could deal with it.  And I did - for years.
     Enter today.  I'm house sitting over in Seattle for some folks on vacation for six weeks.  That means six weeks of setting the trash out on the street.  This time it's Monday nights.  That's not the only change either. I haven't got it right yet.  I've failed garbage inspection every time.  The won't pick it up because I NEVER GET IT RIGHT!  So I have to haul the darned stuff by car over to Bellevue and throw it in my apartment's dumpster (which is still a system I understand).
     What am I doing wrong?  You tell me . . . cause I dunno.  I tried reading the lids on the three different cans.  Food waste in one. Yard waste in another. Compost in one of them, but I'm not sure which one.  Recycled in another, but only clean and washed out, and of course with no lids or caps. There's admonitions concerning harzardous waste - stuff that can be included (although I'm still not sure exactly what can that goes in) and numbers to call to find out the locations of places where I need to take the stuff that doesn't go into ANY of the cans.  Some stuff can be in plastic bags - some, that's a big no-no. Is it any wonder I'm confused.  My step-daughter understands it, but then she's been to law school.  They need a college course for this stuff - honestly.  The term "Sanitation Engineer" is finally really appropriate.
     By the end of it all, I was ready to jump in the can myself, but can't because it is not at all entirely clear if I should plastic bag myself first or not.
     I give up.  I gonna starting looking around for a nice hamster to incinerate, but I'm pretty sure that's illegal now too. Good thing for the environment I guess - not to mention the hamsters.
     Okay - I'm done talking trash now.  See you all in a couple of days.


  1. Man, that is a lot to go through for some damn trash...

    1. Yes it is, Avery. But like you . . . I'm a warrior.