My morning started with a phone call from my husband who just left for work. He forgot to put out our trash the night before and asked me to take care of it. “OH NO!” I screamed. The day before I cleaned out the fridge and threw out expired produce and spoiled chicken. Hoping Marc, our garbage man, didn’t come to our neighborhood yet, I ran out to the can and froze.
A blizzard of maggots fell from the receptacle. Oh my my! Maggots are on my Top Ten List of Worst Things EVER! I nearly fainted but had to pull it together or risk becoming a snow angel, but not with snow. I’m sorry, this is really gross and I can’t even fathom what could have happened, how my personal hell might have occurred right in my driveway, so I’ll stick to the facts. Don’t quit reading. There is a happy, cleaner ending.
I wasn’t touching that can if Marc already came through. I scoped the neighborhood and saw a few cans still at the end of driveways. I thought I’d sneak a peek to see if a neighbor’s was emptied. I was right at Miss Judy’s lid when my puppy Frankie got loose. A porch-sitting neighbor yelled to warn me that Frankie was running behind me. I’m sure he worried she would try to visit his secured, horse-sized Newfoundland. I chased her back home but failed to get the garbage information I wanted. I couldn’t go snooping while Mr. Porch Sitter was out there.
So I called our garbage service to see if Marc came yet. The lady said his route put him there two hours earlier. I asked if she could request that he come back, but she said he was already out of my area and there was nothing she could do. “But I have bad trash,” I whined as if there was any good trash.
“I’m sorry. But it’s out of my control.”
“But I have maggots. I’m not a dirty person. I just had some dirty meat. It spoiled and I hate a stinky fridge, but I really hate a stinky trash can. Please, I’ll pay extra.”
“Sorry. All I can do is call our driver, and it’s unlikely he’ll answer. It’s a scorcher of a day, and he’s alone in the truck and very busy. The best you can do is put out the can, but if he doesn’t show up in an hour, he’s not coming.” She was a little grouchy, but I’m sure she gets calls like this all the time.
“Thanks for trying.” I couldn’t find rubber gloves, so I hosed off the can before taking it to the pick-up spot. I tried drowning the you-know-whats, but they were resilient, seeming to enjoy the puddle I made for them. After all, it was a scorcher.
Time ticked, Marc never showed, and those things morphed into flies. I doused the can in flying insect spray. The squirmers that remained partying in the puddle were gone. I don’t know the science behind these creatures, but where did they all go? If there’s no meat do they disappear, die, or turn into flies? Does raw meat give birth to them? I’m pretty sure I learned all of this in fourth grade but blocked it out. No need to answer me, because I truly don’t want to know. And I will never let grow bugs again.
I really couldn’t handle any more trash and left the can standing up there, not getting picked up, like the clumsy kid in gym class. Later, my husband wheeled it back down. We’d clean it out tomorrow after I got hazmat gear and giant black bags to confine and control “the stuff” until our next collection date. Plus I needed an empty bin for new trash. Trash happens! This solution did not make me happy, as you can imagine, but what could I do?
The next day my sixteen-year-old daughter practiced driving on her way to work with me as her oh so patient passenger. We got stuck behind a garbage truck, a different sanitation company than the one I use. I taught Cara to stop and wait for the garbage man and to pass when all was clear at the broken white line. While waiting, I got an idea. Lightbulb!
I asked Cara, “Do you mind if I get out and talk to that garbageman?”
“Mom, I have to get to work. You’re not getting out of this car. We have maggots. Deal with it, ” she said. Geez! Teenagers are snippy. I wasn’t dealing with it.
We carefully passed the garbage man. He was tall and slender and his name tag said Stan. Funny, because he reminded me of Stanley from Abbott and Costello. He looked like a friendly fella.
Cara got to work on time, and as I drove back home, I couldn’t help noticing all the garbage cans with their lids dangling like capes. Empty.
When I got back to my neighborhood, the cans that matched Stan’s waste agency were all still closed. YES! I drove around and could tell Park Lane was still full of garbage. I was obsessed with getting rid of my trash.
I called this other company and discussed becoming a new customer. Since they don’t recycle, I would have to consult with my husband before switching, but I asked if they would be willing to pick up my garbage as a courtesy to a potential client. The customer service representative was super sweet but said she couldn’t inform the driver whose route was put into the database yesterday. I was stuck with my muck.
I tried to quit fixating on the trash by cleansing my mind with a swim in our pool. Then I heard the breaks of a big truck and squeaks, crunching metallic, and clinking bottles. Maybe it was Stan. Maybe his superpower was knowing when crazyass damsels were in distress over maggots? I was in a bathing suit, so I threw on my pool cover up, a black crochet dress, and went looking for a hero.
No Stan. No more truck noises. Haunted by my lost hopes, I went inside and asked my other teen, Elena, if she saw a garbage truck out her window.
“Uhh, no, but I wasn’t really looking for one. You need to get over it, Mom,” Elena said. She knew I was freaking out when I screamed over spilt rice I thought were… you know.
Then there it was, in all of it’s green and yellow and brown glory, creeping up the road just beyond mine. “Lena, look! It’s Beautiful! I gotta go! A garbage man is coming. A garbage man is coming!” I grabbed two purses that were sitting in the kitchen, hoping I had some cash to offer. I ran to the road and could hear the truck stop; it sounded better than festive bells and ho, ho, ho’s on Santa’s sleigh. I was in the spirit of giving all right. Christmas in July!
I stood there counting dollars, sixteen total. The garbage man had two more stops before he’d be able to see me. I could’ve run to him, but I didn’t want to be obnoxious.
Suddenly, I felt silly standing there in my black coverup with two purses on my arm. I must’ve looked like a floozy. I ran to the yard and hid the purses behind a bush (because carrying two purses was what was really weird about this scene).
Then I ran out to the road again, waving down Stan (Yes! It was really Stan), with cash in my hand like he was the Good Humor Man. He stopped, and I said, “Well, hey there, I am a dum dum and forgot to put out my trash. Can you help me out?”
“Sure, bring it up,” he smiled and parked the truck. I could tell this wasn’t his first good samaritan rodeo.
I sprinted to the can and shoved it up the driveway. Then I said, “I’m sorry about all the flies. I have sixteen dollars for you. Would you mind taking something else?”
He smiled again and said, “Sure, what is it?”
“Umm, a broken pool heater.” We have been needing to dispose of that thing for a couple weeks.
“Sure, bring it up.” I wished I had a Rocket Popsicle to offer this nice guy who was not the Good Humor Man. Boy, was he easygoing. I can’t say the built-to-last metal pool heater was though. Weighing in at 226 pounds, it was a lot heavier than I expected.
I wanted it gone gone gone though, so I dug deep into my recesses of strength that allowed me to drag the heater by its plastic arm. I was more than halfway there, grunting and sweating in my dress, when Stan helped me the rest of the way. He worried about me crushing my toes. I worried about him getting a hernia. When we got to the top of the driveway, the blacktop mountain on which we pushed and pulled a monstrosity of a metal heater, I said, “Now what? Do you have a machine to lift this thing?”
He did not have a pool-heater-lifting machine and said, “Watch your toes,” as he heaved it from the bottom. I helped lift (or maybe got in the way) and we dropped it into the mouth of the truck, crushing and devouring my trash. Stan accepted the bit of cash and I thanked him profusely. Stan, the helpful garbageman, drove away to clean up another neighborhood.
I stood waving with tears of gratitude. “Thank you, Stan. You’re a good man. Thank you.” I swatted a fly and flew down the driveway with my empty trash can. My family was going to be so proud of me.