You know how there are indigents with no jobs and nothing better to do but drive around in pickup trucks and collect junk that people kick to the curb, right? You’ll see them driving a rusted out Ford 150 with wicker chairs and soiled mattresses spilling over their truck beds. That’s who took my can. It has to be them, and here's why...
Because after doing some spring cleaning to the back yard, I placed a trash receptacle so full of dog feces at the end of the driveway that it was imperative to leave a warning note for the sanitary worker who would come at sunrise on a Monday morning to cart off my pets' personal Porta-Potty.
I did this because I worried for the garbage truck guy. It was vile. Not just a box of turds, but like something you’d extract from the aftermath of a Burning Man or Coachella festival. (Minus the syringes, tampons, and lost dignity.)
I wrote on a page duct-taped to the can: “Careful dumping. Take the whole thing if you need to.” I didn't want him spilling dogshit juice down into his sleeve, at least not without a heads-up. But this note was addressed to the sanitary worker—not to the White Trash Curbside Cartel.
Yesterday morning, I realized I was a day ahead of myself. No waste removal team in the hood on a Monday. It was slated for Tuesday. So a whole day went by with the shitbox on the curb. And it was during this time that my receptacle was obviously targeted as fair game by a roving junk scout.
Why? Because when I got home last night the note was missing. WTF? Ripped off? But why? Can wind undermine duct tape? Puzzled, I put a new note on the can: “Please be careful dumping. You can take the whole can if it’s easier. Thank you for your work!” (In hindsight, I should have written: This can is literally full of shit.)
This morning I was pleased to see the garbage man dumped out the shitbag and left the can. We both win: He did his job (presumably without contamination) and I got to keep my backyard garbage bin. So I left all the receptacles at the end of the driveway, admiring them in my rearview as I sped off to work.
Guess what I found when I came home tonight? One less trash can. While my note may have seemed like an indirect invitation, or some documented forfeiture of a household item, it was not. It was a communiqué of courtesy. This did not give just anyone license to take my can. You were only allowed to take it if YOU ARE THE GARBAGE MAN WHO RECEIVED PERMISSION.
So… next Monday or Tuesday while the scumbags are making their weekly rounds, I’m going to put a card table at the end of the driveway. Nothing on it. No note. Just sitting there opened up on four legs. Here’s how the scene will unfold:
Hooptie Ford 150 rolls up sporting a bunch of flowerpots and bicycle parts and other tangible misery roped down to a 20 year-old washing machine. Guy gets out to investigate table. Starts folding it up to take it.
I emerge from around the side of the house where I keep my normal trash cans. I’m wearing a super tight t-shirt after having done hundreds of push-ups, my veins popping out to show extra anger. I have sliced the top of my right shoulder with a sterilized razor so my right sleeve is soaked with blood and it has run down my arm in streaks. Minutes before, I rolled around in the new sod in the back yard to get covered with wet grass and dirt, and also to become as sweaty as possible. I make sure my fingernails are filthy black and there’s mud smeared on my shirt, face, and neck. My hair is a rat’s nest, like I’ve just had the shit beaten out of me, but I survived. In my left hand, I’m carrying a plastic lawn chair by one of its legs; it is also smeared with dried blood.
Me: “Hey. What are you doing?”
Redneck: “Aw man, I’m uh… I’m taking this—is this yers? I thought it was junk here on the curb—I collect junk ya know, I—”
Me (channeling Walter White): “I don’t see a note on that table that says TAKE.”
Redneck: “Yeah well I thawt it uh—”
Me: “Also, does that look like junk to you? Just because it’s on the edge of this driveway does not mean it’s trash. Is it broken? Let me answer that: no, it’s not broken.”
Redneck: “Aw—well, that’s okay I’ll just leave this—”
Me: “Do you know anything about a garbage can that was here last week? Square and boxy, gray color, great condition? It was made by Sterilite, and it was owned by me.”
Redneck: “Aw, no man, I didn’t take that.”
Me: “I think you did. I’m going to need you to bring it back. And what you should know is that it was contaminated with kobu enterovirus which can lead to hepatic failure, meningitis, and flu-like symptoms resulting in a slow death over the course of two weeks. So if you or your family have had the sniffles…”
Redneck: “Hey man, do you live here?”
Me: “Here? No. I just like to keep my contaminated Sterilite on this person’s driveway. Some people drive around collecting other people’s shit. I wander the neighborhood correcting misdeeds.”
Redneck: “Well man I don’t know nothin’ about no garbage can.”
Me: [silent and penetrating stare]
Redneck: “Ok man, uh… I’m gonna go.”
Me: [I set down chair in driveway and sit in it, growling]: “See you next week.”
See also: Dear Bicycle Thief...