Strangers sharing garbage... It's a beautiful thing.

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

“Is anyone coming from your side?”

Jan and I were heading to the home improvement store to pick up something for Geoff. At a stop sign, I checked to see if anyone was about to drive into us. It was all clear and so I responded with the words, “No answer.”

The puzzled look on my mother’s face wasn’t anything I hadn’t already seen before.

What I had meant to say was that it was all clear… that no one was coming. Instead my response was better suited for making a telephone call, than checking on traffic. I had a good excuse. I was tired – as usual. We all were. This house building stuff was taking its toil.

Partway to our destination, a screech came from the backseat.

“Eeeeeek! A fly!”

A housefly had hitched a ride and buzzed above my daughter’s head, before disappearing into the large bag of garbage sitting in the back.

Prior to leaving the house, we had stuffed the stinky sack in the car, fully intending to stop – three seconds later – at the end of the driveway.

Instead, we drove off – refuse in tow. Evidently, we had forgotten about the bag as soon as the vehicle was in drive. The funny thing was, we drove past the garbage bin three times in total that morning. Once, when we left the house the first time. Again – just a few minutes later - when we returned because we had forgotten something, and a third time upon final departure.

Under normal circumstances, we probably would have taken the garbage on a round trip – to the store and back again. However, we were on our way to grab a load of building materials. Plus, the stench was really starting to foul up the air.  We had to act fast, before we all started to absorb the aroma of rotten vegetables, coffee grounds and raw meat.  

“Let’s look for a dumpster.”

My suggestion was a good one, however… rural country roads like ours aren’t exactly littered with public disposal units.

So, we did the next logical thing. We decided to search for a garbage bin at the end of a driveway.

Me: “Is that legal?”

Jan: “Probably not.”

Still, it was our only choice. It was a safety issue. We had a 3-year old in the car for heaven’s sake. This is what we would tell the authorities when they caught us stuffing our crap into some stranger’s box.

We searched for a bin that was distant from any houses, y’know, to be discreet. Trouble was, no such bin existed. But, we did determine that it was in fact garbage day in the country, just as we came across a small group of crates at the end of a long road. The houses were far enough away that the owners would require binoculars in order to read our license plate.

It was perfect.

Jan stopped the car, hopped out and grabbed the trash. “Do it like you live here!” I shouted helpfully from inside the automobile. She strolled nonchalantly over to one of the wooden boxes and lifted the lid.

It was stuffed, full.

She tried the next two containers. Same problem. She brought her hand to her nose and made a motion that expressed just how unbearable the stench was.  What the hell were these people throwing out? Fish guts? Rotten eggs? Dead bodies? I felt a panic attack coming on. Meanwhile, Jan fearlessly hoisted her bag up and stuffed it in one of the wooden enclosures as far as it could go - which wasn’t very far. She scurried away, with our trash staring back at her.

We drove off hoping that the garbage truck would arrive before the crows, raccoons or dogs had a chance to discover our deposit. My heart was racing as visions of a debris-covered road flashed through my head. Then I remembered having thrown out a Glamour magazine (yeah, I didn’t recycle it – so sue me) with the name and address of my friend’s husband stamped all over it. She subscribes via his post office box. It’s a long story. It makes sense if you live where I do. 

I spent the next hour at the home improvement store, hoping I wouldn't have to explain to my friend, why her husband had been called in for questioning. The relief was audible when we later drove past the scene of the crime, with nary a roadside crumb (or dead body) in sight. 

No, really.


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