Monday, March 13, 2017


Ever since I first became a homeowner, trash disposal has been a problem for me. The main reason is because I’ve always lived on private roads where the town doesn’t provide trash pickup…so I’ve had to find other ways to get my trash to the dump.

Call me squeamish, but after my first trip to the dump, being hit in the face with the sweet smell of “Eau de Garbage,” and battling swarms of flies and bees, I decided it definitely wasn’t going to be near the top of my list of must-visit places any time again in the near future.

Luckily, I found a local guy named Richard who offered weekly residential trash pickup. So I hired him to do the dirty deed for me.

Richard was great. He was cheap, punctual, and best of all, I could throw out anything – appliances, paint cans, dead bodies – and he’d take them without hesitation. Life was good.

But alas, Richard, rest his soul, unexpectedly passed away. So I suddenly found myself back at square one.

I couldn’t find any other small-town trash hauler to take care of my problem, so I ended up hiring one of the biggest companies in the nation – Waste Management. In a week’s time, I went from having a trash guy with a rickety pick-up truck with wooden-board railings on the back, to having a trash guy with a big, fancy truck large enough to hold an entire apartment building – along with all of its residents.

Waste Management was amazing, though. For only about $10 a week, they came to my house, picked up the trash, set the barrels back down in an upright position with the lids back on them, and called me whenever a holiday affected their schedule, so I’d know when to put out the trash. And on the days when I was late getting my containers out to the road, they would phone me and say, “We’re at the end of your driveway, waiting for you!”  They were the epitome of trash-pickup perfection.

When I moved to my current location, out in the middle of nowhere, once again I found myself on a private road, with no town services. I contacted Waste Management, certain they would drop me so fast, they would leave skid marks, when they found out where I was living. But they said it would be no problem for them to drive about eight miles out of their way to collect my trash. I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

All went smoothly…except for one thing. My driveway at the new house was over 400 feet long, so sometimes getting the trash out to road was a real challenge, especially in the winter, when the driveway was snow-covered. I ended up having to hoist my trash containers into the back of my car and driving them out to the road.

A couple years ago, my neighborhood received the good news that our private road finally had been approved to become a town road, so we, at long last, would have our trash picked up by the town. I celebrated, thinking of how much money I was going to save. But I also felt a little sad to think I would be giving up, after over 20 years, my longtime relationship with Waste Management.

My celebration, however, was short-lived when the trash containers we were required to use – one for recycling and one for regular trash - from a company called Casella were delivered. Never had I seen such big – or heavy – containers. I tried to lift one and heard my spine making noises that sounded like popcorn popping. And I swear a family of three could live comfortably in each container. There was no way I could lift them into my car. And even if I somehow could, they were much too big to fit into it. Even worse, when I tried, as a test, to wheel them down the driveway, I began to feel as if I were one of the oxen in the weight-pulling contests at the fair. I had to stop and rest three times before I made it out to the road...and that was when the containers still were empty.

So I decided to stick with Waste Management, mainly because they allowed me to use my own lightweight Rubbermaid trash containers – ones that I actually could lift and fit into my car.

Two months ago, after having my trash pick-up day on Friday for years, Waste Management changed it to Wednesday. The first two weeks, I did fine, mainly because I stuck reminder notes all over the house so I wouldn’t forget to put out the trash on Wednesday morning instead of Friday. But the day really wasn’t the issue. It was the time.

Waste Management always had picked up my trash in the afternoon, so I had plenty of time to get it out there in the morning. I didn’t like putting out my trash the night before because of the coyotes. My area is overrun with them, and well, they think of trash containers as free gourmet buffets. But suddenly, the truck was showing up at 8 a.m., or even earlier. And there no longer were any phone calls to inform me they were waiting for me at the end of the driveway. So I ended up missing trash day.

I made a mental note to get the trash out there at the crack of dawn the next week – and I did…but on Friday instead of Wednesday. I immediately called Waste Management to apologize for making the truck come all the way out to the boonies for nothing.

“No problem,” the woman who answered assured me. “But please note that they start your route at 7 a.m. now, so make sure to have your trash out there before then, okay?”

I promised her I would. And I really was determined to do exactly that the next time.

And I would have – if I hadn’t slept until 10 a.m.

Once again, I called Waste Management to apologize.

This time, I spoke to a male employee. “It’s okay,” he said. “In fact, we won’t even charge you for extra bags next week if you have more than the allowed five per pickup.”

“Thank you SO much! I promise you it won’t happen again,” I said, vowing to set three alarm clocks if necessary, so I could get my trash out to the road before 7 a.m.

But the next day, I came home from shopping to find a voice mail saying, “This is Waste Management. We just wanted to inform you that as of March 29th, we no longer will be servicing your address. If you have any questions, please call us.”

I broke all speed records calling them.

“The route is changing,” the employee explained. “And your address will no longer be on that route.”

“My address never was on their route!” I said, “My address isn’t on anybody’s route other than migrating Canada geese!  I need you guys!  I can’t handle the town’s trash containers without risking a hernia! Puh-leeze, don’t drop me!”

The employee’s tone was sympathetic. “I’m sorry. There’s nothing I can do.”

“But just yesterday, you said everything was fine!”

“Sorry,” he repeated.

“I paid for three months in advance,” I said. “When am I paid up until?”

“March 29th.”

“And that just happens to be the same date when this so-called new route is starting?” I asked suspiciously, thinking what a convenient coincidence it was.

“That’s right.”

And that ended that.

So as of March 29th, I am going to be without anyone to pick up my trash, which means I’m going to have to drag the town’s huge containers out to the road, even if it takes me all day. On the plus side, I can bring them out the night before because no animal weaker than Godzilla could open those containers or even knock one over.

But I suppose if I have too much trouble trying to wrestle with the containers, I do have eight acres of unused land here. Maybe I can just start digging my own landfill.

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