One of our first discoveries on moving out to the country a couple summers ago was that the monopolistic trash-removal company that serves our neighborhood is a pack of chiseling swine. Fifty clams a month they demanded for the privilege of picking up our household trash twice a month and hauling it to the county landfill.
Out of thrift, then, we fired the bandits toot-sweet. We compost our cooking scraps (if you leave out anything with fats or oils in it, the varmints leave it alone), and we recycle glass, paper and cardboard. The price for this simple economy is that about once a month I throw about ten bags of trash into the pickup and make a stop at the landfill on my way to work. Fifteen minutes' work? Worth the candle in anybody's book.
Once a year, however, I deeply -- that's deeply -- regret this decision of ours, and this evening is this year's occasion. As you may have heard (if you're not enduring it yourself), we're undergoing our usual July/August heat-wave, and temperatures broke triple digits today with no relief in sight. Arriving home after work, I parked the truck, intending to load up the overflowing trash to take early tomorrow morning. Wonder Woman donned her dainty rubber gloves to help, and we opened the first of three large rubber cans to begin manhandling its contents into the truck bed.
Putting the full trash-bags into the cans is an interesting illustration of the all-too-human trait of avoidance. You open the top, holding your breath against the resulting olfactory assault, quickly dump the bag in, and just as quickly slam the thing shut, the while thinking, Thank Glub I don't have to deal with that right now! And you go on your way back to your clean, well-lit life, banishing from your mind the dreadful prospect of coping with the accumulated avoidances festering in those noisome cans.
But the piper will be paid, as sure as death and taxes, and when we opened the first can this evening, there the piper was, hand outstretched, demanding the palm be crossed.
I'm not going to try to put you off your feed by describing the sight -- and, more to the point, the smell -- of garbage that's been roasting inside a rubber enclosure for a month of ninety-degree heat. But I could. Oh, man -- I could!
Before beginning, we'd had a moment of indecision. It was dinnertime, the water was boiling for the hot dogs and the tomato salad was ready, but the question was, Which choice was going to be harder on the stomach? Do it before dinner, and risk a loss of appetite? Or do it after eating, and risk the loss of the dinner itself? We chose the former -- perhaps out of that same thrift, I don't know. You hate to lose those Hebrew Nationals -- them's good, if pricey, eatin' -- and if you get too woozy to eat, well, you just put 'em back in the fridge uncooked.
After the hideous chore was done, Wondie came back inside, peremptorily picked up her dinner plate and utensils, put them back in the cupboard and went upstairs to shower -- I imagine she scrubbed real hard. Those little wiggly things will do that to a body. I did manage to choke down a hot dog, on general principles, but with absolutely no enthusiasm for the job.
Out the window I can see the truck now, its miasmatic contents surrounded by a halo of flies, hovering worriedly over the pile of heat-accelerated rot and buzzing the muscidaeical equivalent of "My babies! My babies!" The smell on this still, hot night is horrendous as soon as you leave the front door -- fully twenty yards from the truck -- and it leaves one with a rare but understandable enthusiasm for economic monopoly.