Trash Lemmings – Revenge of the CRUDS

[Things were a lot different when we first started recycling in Roseway. We’re more organized now. Here’s how it used to be. ~Max]

Garbage Max

Nobody on our street knows for sure, but I think Arthur is to blame. He’s the one that puts his yard debris on the curb first and that sets off the whole neighborhood. Then when the trucks go through and leave all the grass clippings and tree branches sitting by the street because this isn’t the right week for yard debris we all look like idiots. All except for Larry in the brown house. He was an apartment dweller before he became a homeowner so when he moved in he cut down all hedges and trees, covered every exposed ground surface with black plastic, and spread the whole thing with red cinder-rock. He has no yard debris. Of course, neither does ground zero at the Nevada  nuclear test site.

Neighborhood Consciousness

I guess we all thought Arthur still had his little calendar with the weeks that yard debris would be picked up highlighted. The rest of us apparently recycled ours. We’ve been secretly relying on the NEIGHBORHOOD COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS to tell us when to do our lawn stuff. The result has been that when Arthur puts out his special  “yard debris only” garbage can somebody else notices and hurries out with theirs. This starts a cascade effect down our street. We all become like little trash lemmings, running blindly to the curb with our cans and bags. Sometimes we see each other while we are doing it, yet nobody has the nerve to holler out, “Hey, Chuck! Are you sure they’re gonna pick this stuff up?” We just wave confidently at one another and go back into the house hoping that we won’t have to hang on to our grass clippings for another week while they start producing methane gas in the side yard. Some of us don’t bother to move the cans away from the curb. We just leave them until we have little circles of dead grass on our parking strip.

All of this is probably very amusing to Bruno, our local “Curbside Rubbish and Unwanted Debris Specialist”  (CRUDS) who sweeps through our neighborhood once a week like giant mechanical lymphocyte. He thinks it’s particularly amusing to change pick-up times on us. For a month our so I’ll hear him at around ten rumbling through the neighborhood —a one man D-day invasion. This lulls me into a false sense of confidence that he will come every week at the same time. Wrong! Quietly dozing at 6:10 AM, I hear the CRUDS two houses down. I leap out of bed, frantically put on Huey and Dewie my fuzzy Christmas slippers, careen down the stairs and into the back yard, whack myself in the face with a rain soaked hedge that I should have pruned three weeks ago, and drag my over-full garbage can out to the street just in time to watch Bruno round the corner. Bruno laughs at this. Through his rearview mirror he seems to think the sight me dressed in a T-shirt and blue gym shorts, chasing him down the street in oversized fuzzy slippers on the wrong feet while dragging a garbage can with wobbly wheels is comical.

Walkman Wayne

Fortunately, our other CRUDS, the one that picks up our recycling is a little more easy going. He’s a long haired dude with a backwards baseball hat who always wears a Walkman. I usually hear the Walkman even before I hear the truck. Wearing one of those things is a bit like voluntary deafness. I tried to find out his name once. He pulled up in front of my house just as I was bringing out a bundle of newspapers. “Hi!” I said, “my name’s Max, what’s yours?”

“Sure is!” he said, adjusting his earphones.

“I beg your pardon?” I asked.

He smiled broadly and said, “Supposed to for another couple of days.”

The conversation went on like that until I just decided to call him “Walkman Wayne” or “Wayne” for short. He doesn’t seem to mind. I’ll see him drive up and I’ll wave from the front porch. “Hi, Wayne!” I’ll say. He smiles, waves and hollers back, “Sure is!”

I think he’s talking about the weather. He has about 150 people on his route, a few of whom try to say something to him through his earphones. He probably figures that if he talks about the weather, at least once or twice during a day he will accidentally be having a conversation.

To his credit, he’s pretty laid back about our recycling.

We used to have CRUDS that were very picky about the recycling. When they bought our neighbors and us (I think that’s called a franchise) they gave us a list of detailed instructions about proper preparation of recycling. Put the colored glass in one paper bag, the clear glass in another paper bag. Bundle the cardboard in a pile no more than three feet long. Put old newspapers in a separate paper bag. Smash your milk jugs. Don’t break any glass. Put magazines in a paper bag. Put cereal boxes in a paper bag. Put office paper in a paper bag. Strangle any grocery clerk that asks you if plastic is OK. When all of this is done put everything into a little plastic recycling crate and set it out next the curb. Do this the night before pick-up so it can sit out there in the rain all night while all paper products, including the paper bags that everything is in, dissolve and turn the whole mess into a kind of recycling minestrone.

Seeing this, I think Wayne has gained the serenity to accept the things he cannot change.

He doesn’t seem to care what shape our recycling is in. He just turns up his Walkman and tosses whatever he finds in those little yellow bins into the truck.

Watching him the other day, I yelled, “Hey, Wayne! Thanks for being understanding about the recycling!”

He smiled and waved. “Sure is!”

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