Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. the Garbage Man

Awkward Mom, I am pretty sure that the accepted term is "Trash Collector."

Now, long-term Readers will know of my avoidance of house-hold chores. Heck, I am pretty sure short-term Readers could pick up on that one rather quickly too. I am not an award-winning housewife, by any means, and I would not recommend eating off my floor, although you might find more than a few morsels down there. Super Baby hasn't mastered her hand/eye coordination just yet. But there is one household task that I actually enjoy doing; taking out the garbage.

I am a purger at heart and there is nothing I enjoy more than clearly out a space. The nitty gritty of scrubbing a space and the boring drudgery of maintaining said space are whole other matters and not ones that brings me joy. But the moving of stuff? The getting rid of stuff? The throwing away of stuff? Ah, that delights my soul. Probably a bit too much if you ask Awkward Dad where some of his stuff went, but it is what it is. Therefore, I derive great pleasure from clearing out trash cans in our house and carrying them outside to the big garbage can and the bright blue recycle bin; like some grouch priestess offering stuff to the trash alters. I am not kidding. I really like taking out the garbage.

Garbage day is Tuesday, so I do a sweep of the house garbage and haul the cans out to the curb Monday night. This is quite fitting because I still have hope for the week on Monday. Monday is that day of possibility when the week hasn't really worn me down yet, and I have grand weekly plans of cleaning schedules, Perfect-Mom-type crafts and outings, and strict budgets. Purging our house of diapers, banana peels, and used tissues just feels right on Monday. I will also confess that there might be more than one used-up coloring book and perhaps the 800th picture of stick figure Mommy with a giant circle, where her stomach should be, tucked in between flattened cereal boxes and yogurt cups, heading for the recycling bin. This also feels just right. You can judge me if you want to, but let me tell you, this circle is just ridiculously large.

This past Monday night was different. Awkward Dad decides that he wants to help out. Not sure if it is one of his new year's resolutions or he has suddenly become a purger or he is avoiding his work notes, but he wants to "handle the garbage" tonight. I am not pleased. Now, this isn't because Awkward Dad isn't good at cleaning. In fact, he is a much better cleaner than I am. He is one of those who actually enjoys scrubbing something clean, he just doesn't have much time to do stuff like that. Whereas I have the time but not the interest, he has the opposite problem. No, it is just that garbage is my thing. If he wants to "handle" cleaning the bathroom or vacuuming the living room, I am sure as shooting not gonna say no. But, he seems to think that garbage is how to best help me for whatever reason. Well, whatever the reason, and I am leaning towards avoidance of notes, he gathers up the garbage in the house, looking through it first! How do you like that trust? After he rescues a couple "masterpieces" of Super Preschooler and a ratty looking comic book (that he has 2 copies of!), he drags the cans to the curb. We all go to bed, some more miffed than others, and await Tuesday.

Tuesday dawns clear and bright. I can hear the rumbling of the garbage trucks up and down the street as I lay there listening to Awkward Dad get ready for work and shove Super Toddler's arm out of my face. Hmmm....Awkward Dad is getting ready for work. Just what time is it anyway? Oh Holy Cats! It's Tuesday! Super Preschooler has preschool! Super Baby starts her new First Steps class! I have to get Super Toddler to Amazing Mom's house! So, before you know it, I am hurling children in pants and throwing Cheerios at them, while somehow buttoning coats and getting shoes on. You see, it is no longer Monday. It is Tuesday, when the reality of the week starts to crystallize, and the image coming into focus isn't quite my fantasy of competency and grace.

Awkward Dad leaves in a blur of papers, and we quickly follow. I am standing by the driver's side sliding door, which is completely iced over and refusing to open, when I happen to glance at the garbage cans. They are haphazardly leaning into each other, still completely full, and the handles are facing the road. I glare after Awkward Dad's car, but he is escaping. Not so me, who is herding the children around to the unstuck passenger side door, when I hear massive brakes squealing to a halt right in front of our house. I barely have time to register the enormous garbage truck blocking my driveway when its horn beeps. One really should say that it blasts, there is no beeping about that sound.  Then, this happens:

Garbage Man (oops, I mean Trash Collector): Hey, do you live here?

Me: Super Toddler, get in the van!

Super Toddler (in the awed voice of the newly converted): Garbage Truck. Garbage truck!

Me: Yes, I live here. Super Toddler, get in the van!

Trash Collector: Look here, you are not meeting the requirements for trash pick-up.

Me: Excuse me?

Trash Collector: I skipped your recycle can because it is too close to your trash can and it is facing the wrong way. They are both facing the wrong way.

Me: I know. I was going to fix that. You see....Super Toddler get back here!

Super Toddler: Want to touch! Want to touch!

Trash Collector: They are also way too close to that tree. Guidelines stipulate that you must place the cans 8 feet from any low hanging branches.

Me: Super Toddler, get back here. Trees, OK. I didn't know that. I am sorry.

Trash Collector: They should really be placed over there.

Me: Well, that isn't our yard. That is our neighbor's and he is kinda particular about his grass. Super Toddler, stop touching that!

Super Preschooler: How come Super Toddler gets to ride the garbage truck?

Me: He isn't riding it! He might be touching it though, Super Toddler, stop that! Yes, yes, he is mine. I see him, thank you, well-meaning couple walking their dog! Can I put them over there instead?

Trash Collector: I suppose, but they are facing the wrong way.

Me: Yes, I know. You see my husband did that. I know which way they are supposed to face and was going to fix it after I got the kids in the van.

Trash Collector (with the contempt this deserves): Humph. I'll take the recycling, but you are gonna have to move that trash can. And you are gonna have to move him.

Super Toddler: Look me, Mom!

Me: Get down here, Super Toddler! OK, thank you.

I gather Super Toddler off the garbage truck, which causes blasting of a whole other ilk, and I stash him in the van. I plod through the snow, amid the cacophony of car horns and mumbling neighbors, to our trash can, which promptly falls over at my touch. White garbage bags tumble out onto the matching snow and one rips open, while, behind me, the garbage truck roars to life and proceeds to pick up my illegally placed recycling can. I can hear Super Toddler's screams from here. As cars race around the idling garbage truck, their owners stare, with a mix of pity and frustration, at me hunched over in the snow, picking up my garbage and putting it back in the can. Tears prick my eyes, as I force down my embarrassment and pick up dirty diapers, banana peels, and used tissues. You know, upon reflection, I don't think I really like taking out the garbage anymore.

Upon further reflection, we aren't sure about the term trash collector. Trash collector sounds like something more appropriate for hipsters looking for lamps in the dumpster than the man of authority and barely contained wrath that shamed Awkward Mom yesterday. Garbage man doesn't really fit either. General Garbage? Totalitarianist of the Trash? Sergeant Stricture and Statute? shall comes to us in time. But until then, Awkward Mom will be the only one taking out the garbage, 8 feet over from the tree.

Don't feel too bad for Awkward Mom; she gets to look at this all day. 


  1. Here is where living in the country has some advantages - you seldom see the trash collectors and they are fairly relaxed - they take everything that's out there.

    1. They are so mysterious the way you describe them....never seeing them and taking everything. Are you sure you even have trash collectors? Maybe you have ghost thieves instead!

  2. And no kvetching with the customers.

    1. It was really more of a lecture....

  3. Ugh, I'm sorry you had such a crazy day with garbage :( Taking out garbage is solely my husband's almost the only chore in the house. Purging, on the other, hand is mine.

    1. It turned out to be a great day with a kinda rough start! I will take that over a great day with a bad end anytime!

      Purge away, my purging sister!!

  4. Wow. I didn't realize how blessed we are to have nice, laid-back garbage men! They wave to Katie every week as she watches them with delight, and I've never seen them skip a can even though some of our neighbors have zero clue how to put out the trash cans.

    This being California, garbage men are probably called "Waste Collection Technicians" - or is "waste" not PC enough? "Refuse Amalgamation Specialists?" Betcha it's something like that.

    1. Man, Super T. would lose his mind if they waved at him. Lucky duck!

      I think you may be correct in your naming there..... :)

    2. I also forgot to mention...HOLY CUTENESS! Look at Super Baby standing in her footie pajamas!! She is so squeezable!!

    3. That she is! She started walking a week ago....the Super Boys were late walkers so I am completely at a loss here. Should be awkward...