On those rare occasions when the pump malfunctions and we have no water, my subconscious panics, and I experience an immediate intense thirst. It matters not one whit that I have bottled water in the refrigerator and jugs of water stored for emergencies. My subconscious doesn’t have to be logical. It wants the pump working post haste.
Last week our emergency involved trash pickup, or rather the lack thereof. Stuart put the trash around front and carefully lined it up with the road to meet the company’s specifications. When he came in from school Monday, he said, “Grandma, they didn’t pick up our trash today.”
“They’re probably just running a day behind,” I replied nonchalantly. “It happens sometimes. They’ll get it tomorrow.”
Tuesday afternoon, he reported, “Still no trash pickup, Grandma.”
“Okay,” I told him. “I’ll call.”
I forgot. By Wednesday, the situation had intensified. The kitchen trash had developed a distinctive odor and was running over. I didn’t dare bag it and put it outside for animals to tear up and strew about the yard. So I called the county commissioners’ office and then called the number on their recording. Soon I was actually speaking with a polite and apologetic lady.
“Maybe they’re just running late today,” she told me. “Today is your regular day, right.”
“Well, no. Last Monday was our day.”
“I’m so sorry, Mrs. Ellis,” she crooned. “I’ll call the driver and he’ll get it this afternoon or tomorrow at the very latest.”
“Tomorrow,” I assured Larry and Stuart, as I lit two pine scented candles in the kitchen.
I didn’t wait for Stuart to check on Thursday. I did it myself and discovered my trash still in the can. By this time I was eyeing the neighbors’ trash as well. They too still had theirs.
I came inside and called the nice lady again.
“I’m so sorry,” she apologized. “Our regular driver has jury duty this week and apparently the substitute can’t find you. Give me your address again. He’ll be there today.”
He wasn’t. It’s Sunday night and last week’s trash still sits in the driveway where Stuart placed it last Sunday evening. Close anyway. We might have jiggled the container just a smidgen when we stuffed in that smelly kitchen trash that absolutely couldn’t stay in the house another minute.
Certainly I can sympathize with the driver’s having jury duty. I had jury duty myself last week. However, I knew a couple of weeks in advance that jury duty loomed, so I made the appropriate arrangements for covering my class while I was gone.
In the meantime, I started to wonder exactly how to dispose of my excess trash. Gone are the days when the big green dumpster sat a quarter of a mile from my house. I’d send a teenaged son to carry off the trash, and he’d frequently come back with one or more thrown-away animals. But the trash was gone. Now people have to come all the way to the house to throw out their animals. How inconvenient.
I considered loading my trash and driving it to a county with dumpsters. First of all, that’s illegal, and secondly, gas costs $3.55 per gallon. Perhaps I could take a sack or two to town and slip it into some dumpster. That, too, is illegal. I suppose I could lie and say I couldn’t read the sign on the side of the green container prohibiting throwing my trash there, but that story probably wouldn’t hold up for long. We can’t burn it without a burn permit, and when you call for one, the authorities instruct you to burn only natural products like limbs and leaves—no paper, no cereal boxes, etc. They’ll send the authorities if you violate the rule. Besides, cans won’t burn and burning plastic bottles damages the atmosphere. What’s a woman to do? If the trash man doesn’t come tomorrow, he may force me into a life of crime. I can only accumulate so much trash.
I really do expect to hear the groaning of the truck’s motors tomorrow morning at the usual time. We pay for this service on a regular basis. We pay promptly and expect the service to be just as prompt. I’ll also be checking the bill to see if one week’s service was deducted since it wasn’t rendered. If not, I know how to subtract.