The hidden woes of everyday life: taking out the trash

Postscript examines two obstacles—high garbage standards and the Internet

How good-looking does garbage have to be to attract the garbage man?
How good-looking does garbage have to be to attract the garbage man?

There’s an aesthetic problem in the middle of my lawn. A mop, a decapitated vacuum, and a mysterious white pole have decorated my small patch of grass for about a week.

On Tuesday evening, we placed the mop and wounded vacuum alongside our two black garbage bags and neatly crushed cardboard, which we’d tied into bundles no bigger than 36” x 24” x 8”. Both were left behind, though, even though we placed the handle of the mop at just the right angle on top of the bags for the garbage man’s convenience.

Refusing to accept their rejection, we left them there. We decided the most logical reaction to the selectiveness of the garbage man was to keep our mop and vacuum until next week rolled around.

This brilliant decision drastically altered our natural landscape. We live outside the Ghetto, surrounded by a population of golden-aged residents who—we were warned—have the solid waste department of Kingston’s complaint line on their speed-dial. Somehow, I think we might soon become acquainted with this particular department.

The first indication: our walk to campus has been sprinkled with adverts for junk collecting companies that will take away your unwanted garbage, for a meagre $92. These little white posters started fluttering at the end of the block, but are edging slowly toward us.

Indication number two: the knowing upper-years have realized our blind innocence and are exploiting it mercilessly. Enter the mysterious white pole—too long to be a shower rod, too bendy to be a curtain rod and too metallic to belong to our generation. It is also covered in green tape and bent at a 35-degree angle for the sake of looking even more useless. Along with the pole, a bike helmet, a box (which might once have been white), and a crusty baking sheet have all appeared in our front-lawn junk pile. With the pile of rejection, we have also gained the stereotypical nosy, disapproving neighbour. He checks on our pile of wonders regularly, walks around it, and even pokes at it once in a while. He is the sly type who will only indulge in these activities unseen. The second time I saw him, I rushed out to make first contact and inquire whether he wanted to keep any of our debris. As soon as I threw in an “excuse me”, he paced—nay, scurried away—around the corner, never to be seen again anywhere.

So in an effort not to meet the creators of the great slogan “waste in its place” and to placate our pestering neighbours, we managed to squash, crush and mangle our detritus neatly and beautifully into a bag. Thanks to the bike helmet’s refusal to break (despite our best efforts), I now have new faith in the structural safety of helmets. We caved on the mop, though, and have hidden it in the recesses of our basement—where it will probably ferment into a seafoam -coloured mess. But I think we’ve got it under control now.

The white “Got Junk?” posters are still pointing my way to school and I swear, a car paused yesterday to see if I mixed the corrugated and glossy cardboard together. But this is part of me growing up as an individual and learning my life lessons. I, too, can memorize the double-sided dictatorial Kingston Recycling tips. I can even wait until next year, when the new second-years move in across the street.

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