Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Litter of the Law

Yesterday at work I got a call on the regular business line from a Mrs. Kravitz woman who reported that her terrible neighbors had dragged their three bags of garbage out to the curb the day before garbage day, even though she knew that the neighbors fully realized that doing such a dastardly thing was against the law.

I was a little taken aback, which doesn’t happen all that often, so I paused before replying. She took this as an opportunity to explain to me that it was all over the news that people should only put their garbage out on the day the garbage collection service came for pick-ups and not a minute earlier; furthermore that police would be ticketing the evil scofflaws who committed such acts because garbage attracts bears and no one wants bears in their neighborhood. I calmly suggested that she call our local fish and wildlife department, at which point she told me the news told her to call the police and that was what she was doing and what was I going to do about it.

I took her information and politely told her “thank you, we’ll see what we can do.” I then turned to my immediate supervisor and asked if we were really going to load a call about garbage put out the night before garbage day. The answer was a reluctant but firm “yes.”

Okey-dokey. Like the good public servant that I am, I entered said call. Then I began thinking. Actually I believe I began ranting about my family tradition of celebrating Garbage Eve and wondering aloud about how I was a criminal last week when I was manically cleaning and taking contractor bag after contractor bag out to the curb four days early. Four days! Later I apologized to all within earshot for any discomfort I caused them while I was under the influence of extreme incredulity.

I remembered reading the blog post by Rogier van Bakel about Japan’s Trash Nannies. I had thought at the time about the crazy busy-body community who would spend their personal time monitoring other people’s garbage. What loony birds! Now I look around me to see a bunch of twigs and bird spit all prepared for a nest of our own brand of loonies.

The reason for the season is our local bear population.

Anchorage is very close to Alaska and for that reason wildlife tends to wander through the outskirts of our fair city. Moose are the most common neighbors but we see our share of bears, porcupines, eagles, etc. Moose are attracted by gardens and trees. Bears are attracted by birdfeeders and garbage. No one in Anchorage needs to feed birds, yet they insist on filling feeders with seed and suet. Those in the outskirts of town with birdfeeders on their decks will likely encounter a bear on the very same deck during the summer. Last summer when the temperatures reached the low 90’s (for Anchorage that is freakin’ hot) at least one woman lost a very expensive inflatable pool to the claws of a bear who thought the water looked inviting.

So I know the rules of living in bear country: store your garbage in bear-proof containers (read: garage), keep your dog food inside, let the birds find their own meals, and sing Celine Dion songs as loud as you can while hiking so that bears get scared away (it works for other hikers too).

But to take Garbage Eve away from me? Criminalize the closest thing I have to a religious upbringing? What’s that smell? That’s the sickly sweet scent of the Man trying to keep the brother down.

The fact is that no respectable bear would enter my neighborhood.

I live in a trailer park cleverly disguised as a row of duplexes. If you think I am being too harsh, let me illustrate:

1. The neighbor across the street believes that the Confederate flag makes a dandy window treatment.

2. The neighbor one block over is selling their washer, dryer, and refrigerator. To keep the fridge fresh, they have it plugged in while displaying all three appliances on their front yard. The handwritten cardboard sign announcing the price and the coiled length of orange extension cord leading to the house completes the curb appeal.

3. There are as many junk cars as operable cars in the driveways.

4. Not one, but several neighbors have couches and/or recliners in their garages so they can open the garage doors and watch traffic, lounging in their wife-beater t-shirts and drinking 40oz bottles of beer.

Yet with all it’s redneckedness, it turns out that I am the one on the block who is a trashy criminal. While I thought I was being roguish with my rubbish, I am really just a scofflaw like those who Mrs. Kravitz was trying to sic the po-po on.

Jesus wept.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey law breaker! stop talkin about my new house before I have to sic my vicious dog ya! Just kidding. I love garbage eve, I feel so responsible taking my trash out AND waste management said to put it out the night before cause sometimes they pick up at 6am and there is no way that I am going to stay awake/get up at that time to put the trash out. And if I am awake I am in no condition to be handleing trash .
Traci

xtx said...

excellent entry.

Garbage Eve...lol!!

Anonymous said...

E,
Garbage Eve, Our family stands on the curb the night of Garbage Eve and sing "Here's our trash Land fill - Man it stinks, Here's our trash Land fill - man it stinks" and so on and so on, to the tune of Kumbyah. In the morning we have a candle light visual where the trash was places and is now gone in remembrance of the good service the items were to us prior to becoming trash. It is funny now when we are out side the neighbors see us and quickly gather their children and flee behind locked doors, I say locked because they have no shame in having me hear the dead-bolt slam home. Any way, all that to say - Brother I feel your pain.
TheVoice

Anonymous said...

I had to education and indoctrinate Derek on the virtues and reality of Garbage Eve.

Now he calls it Garbage Eve. :)

J-bro

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