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  Stalking the elusive garbage truck
Fickle creatures by nature, you have to be vigilant
  Sharon Dunn,
National Post

The big thing on my mind this week was garbage. I put the bags out as usual for Friday morning collection, but they were still there Friday night. And with nothing but a very hot, smelly weekend ahead, that was a big deal.

I stood out front watching hopefully for the familiar sights and smells of the garbage truck, but it was not to be. At nightfall, I hauled my refuse back into the garage.

"The truck might be here in the morning," a neighbour yelled from across the street. But with the raccoons about to start their night shift, I couldn't take the chance. I seemed to be the only one on the street taking my garbage back inside, so I figured I must have the most exciting waste. Why, I could almost smell the tandoori chicken in bag 3, and there's nothing like the scent of rotting cantaloupe mixed with paint thinner wafting from bag 5.

Garbage has become so complicated. I pine for the good old days, before blue boxes, green boxes, lawn bags -- and be sure to cut the cardboard just right. And if you don't comply, the results can be disastrous. I once had a heap of garbage growing outside my house that the truck absolutely refused to take. The pile included an old pool filter, bags of sand, three broken vinyl chairs, cardboard boxes (that I was told weren't cut correctly), a wire sign rack and two orange pylons. After about a month, close to tears, I called the city office.

"If the pool filter is steel" the receptionist told me, "it has special pickup. And you'll have to bring in the bags of sand yourself. We don't take sand."

He insisted that the big orange pylons were my responsibility.

"But the city left them in front of my house when they were working on the road," I wailed. "They're not mine, they're yours."


The fellow then told me I should "be nice" to the guys on the garbage truck. "The garbage man doesn't have to take all that garbage, you know. It's at his discretion."

What on earth does "be nice" mean? Should I invite the guys on the truck and their families over for a barbecue?

Such were my thoughts as I tucked my garbage safely in the garage. When I awoke Saturday morning there was but one thing on my mind: What if the garbage truck comes early and I miss it? Frantic that this might happen, I got up at 5:30 a.m. and started to read the paper. I guess I fell asleep because the next thing I know, it's 7:45 and the phone is ringing.

"The garbage truck is here," my neighbour warns.

"No," I wail, streaking through the house trying to find a T-shirt and shorts. I set off the house alarm somewhere along the way, but I don't have time to disconnect it. Barefoot, half-naked, I run on to the street. Just in time to see the garbage truck fly by.

"Please," I yell plaintively, flailing my arms. "Please, I can't miss garbage day."

And then, miraculously, the garbage truck stops, and the two city workers walk toward me, smiling. They even carry my garbage to the truck. I tell you, it's a vision I won't soon forget.

  Last update: May 6, 2009
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