My wife and I received a notice in the mail about two months ago. It seems our little township had been negotiating with various waste disposal services, and--for the first time since we moved in--had decided to go with a different provider.
That led to more notices in the mail, mostly from the different provider, and the subject of those notices was Change. With the new company, we could only put out our recycling every other week, not every week as we had under the old company. With the new company, we would no longer put our garbage on the curb on Day A, but instead it would have to go out on Day B. Most notably, the new company would be delivering its own containers for our garbage and recycling, and we should expect to see those in time for New Year's.
I like waste removal. This is not a post about landfills or the need to recycle or Saving The Planet or anything like that -- if you want one of those, I'm sure you can find it somewhere on the internet. All I am saying is I like the fact that someone comes and takes away my garbage. I grew up in a rural area, and well remember taking trips to The Dump when I was a kid. As a kid, more often than not it was my job to throw that garbage out of the truck while my father sat behind the wheel and waited for me to finish. That was a workable system--especially for Dad--but I am grateful I now have a different workable system where I need to walk no further than my curb.
I am not someone who is afraid of change, but I am someone who gets peevish about change merely for the sake of change. Maybe the village got a deal, and maybe that deal would keep my taxes down, but the system that had been in place since we moved in worked, and if it ain't broke--well, you know the rest.
What got me, quite honestly, were the new containers. I came home one day and there was a brand new shiny plastic garbage can at the end of my driveway. It was in the center of my driveway, too, so I had to stop the car and move it in order to get into the driveway, then walk back to the curb to get it and haul it up to the house. What most disturbed me about the new container was its size. My wife and I already owned garbage cans--two of them, in fact--and those cans were large enough to deal with all our disposal needs. But this new garbage can was MASSIVE. It was so big I couldn't find a way to keep it in the garage that allowed my wife to pull her car in. Two days later, another MASSIVE can showed up for recycling, and my problems doubled. Just how many people did the waste disposal company think lived at my house? And what was I supposed to do with my old, less massive containers -- throw them in the garbage?
Of course, I had no choice but to grow accustomed to change (unless I wanted to resume the practice of going to The Dump, which wasn't a huge draw for me). I found a spot where the cans could reside. I put our old cans in the shed. I got on with the rest of my life, in which I occasionally threw things away.
We approached our first Garbage Day. It was a day later than it used to be under the old company, but a lot of my neighbors put their cans on the curb at the old time. (This, incidentally, gave great joy to my dog, whose favorite day for a walk is Garbage Day, because SO MANY SMELLS! My thanks to those neighbors who not only helped ease my puppy's transition, but also provided TWO Garbage Days that week; you made an Aussie Shepherd mix very happy.)
The night of the old Garbage Day, I went through the house and emptied all the wastebaskets in preparation for the new Garbage Day, and I took a couple of bags out to the new MASSIVE garbage can, and noticed it was less than a third full. How ridiculous! Why did this garbage can have to be so MASSIVE? Still, it was the only approved garbage can I now owned, so I wheeled it to the curb to the side of the driveway, facing out, label-to-the-front-and-wheels-to-the-back as one of the various notices we had received had dictated. The new company dutifully came sometime during the day and took away my garbage, and when I got home from work I collected the can and wheeled it back up to the house. Life went on.
The next week, as Garbage Day approached, the can was once again less than a third full. This seemed both stupid and wasteful (pardon the pun), so I moved through the house, looking for something else I might possibly throw away to help fill this ridiculously MASSIVE can, and I found Ricardo.
Ricardo, if you're curious, is the name of my old suitcase. I bought it when I was working at a department store. Ricardo was the biggest suitcase I could find at the time, one of those soft-sided monsters with the fold-out hanging garment section. It had an extendable handle and the little wheels so you didn't actually have to carry it. I didn't need a suitcase that big, but I had been married almost ten years by that time, and had plenty of opportunity to realize my wife was going to pack her suitcase until it weighed precisely 49.8 pounds and then approach me with the rest of the things she wanted to take with her and say, "Do you have any room in your suitcase?"
So, during the brief span of time I worked in the department store, I used my employee discount to buy Ricardo. But the years that followed were not kind to Ricardo. A faux-leather strap got peeled off by an airline carousel. The garment bag portion had a busted zipper. And--when I used Ricardo to haul an antique typewriter back from Phoenix, one of the wheels broke and the extendable handle had decided it had extended quite enough already, thank you.
I tell you all of that stuff about Ricardo to let you know this was not a carry-on, by any stretch. But when I took Ricardo out to the new MASSIVE garbage can and shoved him inside of it, Ricardo fit, and with room to spare. The lid closed neatly. I wheeled Ricardo to the curb, and that was the last I saw of him.
Still, it was that moment, as I sealed Ricardo's fate, that my entire viewpoint changed.
Most of us have a few things we could probably live without but just can't seem to throw away. I collect typewriters, for crying out loud, so I probably have more of these things than others. Now, I also had a MASSIVE new garbage can I could never possibly hope to fill with my usual household trash, so each week has become a hunt. As Garbage Day approaches, I scour my house, knowing I still have two-thirds of a container left to fill. Each week, something I have not quite known what to do with gets loaded into this new container and sent to the curb.
For those finding me wasteful (there's that word again) please understand I do not discard that which can be donated. No self-respecting thrift store would have wanted Ricardo in the shape he was in. No one ever would have looked at the various pieces of Styrofoam that had come in various packages and said, "How can you throw that away?" What I do each week is merely fulfilling my duty to the waste removal company: I am--quite literally--"taking out the trash."
And what a joy to see these items go away! How lovely it is, to open my hall closet and see a Ricardo-sized hole of empty space! I still own too many typewriters, and don't even get me started on the books, but I am beginning to appreciate how minimalists could be happy. I can see how Marie Kondo made a career of this--and isn't it some delicious irony that my new MASSIVE garbage can is one of the things that sparks joy?
If you have read all the way to the bottom of this post and are now expecting some kind of point to all this, I am afraid I am about to disappoint you. Still, this blog started as a way for me to try to find more joyful moments in a life that didn't always seem to have them, at the time. It was my way of looking toward the positive instead of dwelling in the negative. And if I can find honest-to-goodness joy in taking out the garbage, then perhaps I am well on my way to accomplishing what this blog was designed to do. I hope you are also finding joy in your day-to-day. If not, come on over to my house. Bring something that bothers you or a thing you don't know what to do with, and I will try to show you how much better you'll feel when you just throw that thing away.