Saturday, February 28, 2009

Dumpster Diving

OK, so I'm gonna break down here and admit that every once in a while, something comes across my path that just grinds me.

Normally I can deal with these rare occurrences and no one is any wiser as to the wrestling in my brain. I am no Monk by any stretch of the imagination (my clutter would push the poor man into a permanent catatonic state), but I do have a couple squeamish tendencies that make Tom refer to me as a germ-a-phobe, in a very loving sort of way. I use hand sanitizer the minute I exit Walmart, I use my own pens to sign papers at the doctors office, and I hold the electronic stylus pen at RiteAid with my sleeve when I sign for prescriptions. I think that's only logical! Who goes to the doctor and pharmacy? Sick people!! (I also prefer my kitchen cupboards to be organized by food group, can size and labels turned OUT, and my bathroom closet to have all towel edges turned IN - does this indicate a need for psychological evaluation?)

Despite what you may be thinking right-about-now, the subject of this post really isn't my minor OCD issues. No, the subject - the daily grind, if you will - is TRASH CANS. In particular, OUR trash cans.

Our kitchen trash can being full doesn't bother me. The fact that I'm the only person in the house who routinely notices that it fills up bothers me. The fact that I am still, after nearly 17 years, explaining to my children the task of properly taking the trash to the outdoor trash can and REPLACING THE BAG IN THE KITCHEN TRASH CAN bothers me.

The lid doesn't bother me. We utilize the trash receptacle so often that I generally don't even keep the lid on it. It's stored near the trash can, and prior to company coming over, we'll dust it off and dutifully slap it on top of the (hopefully) empty can. It bothers me that I don't have a "place" for my trash can other than way-too-near my kitchen table, but it works out great for tossing the dry pizza crust and chicken wings and flipping the Corona bottle tops without getting off our chairs.

Dirty trash cans REALLY grind me. Growing up, my mother used paper grocery bags to line the trash can. Paper bags are shorter than the average kitchen trash can, so this effort really did nothing to keep the trash can clean. Emptying all the trash cans in the house was one of my routine chores, so you can imagine my displeasure at having to haul a nasty can outside to the burn barrel and watch the days' disgust roll down the side of the stained, formerly-white-now-dingy-gray can into eternal ashy oblivion.

As you can see in this picture SOMEONE didn't bother to make sure there was a trash bag in the can before tossing a few coffee grounds in, or else SOMEONE ripped a hole in the bag that was there, and a few coffee grounds slipped through. However, my solution to this problem is this: when I mop the floors, I use my kitchen trash can for a bucket. It keeps it nice and fresh. The bottom of my kitchen trash can is NOT stained, and in fact is so clean, that I wouldn't cringe if a piece of chocolate fell in - I'd probably consider the 30-second rule, blow off the imaginary germs, and depending on the day of the month, yes, I would probably eat it. Because I use a botanical germicidal spray on my trash cans, they are actually pretty clean in between changing bags. So that the other trash cans in my life don't feel left out, I let them masquerade as mop buckets every so often, too. My house may be a mess, but by golly, the trash cans are gonna be clean!

Something else that bothers me is the price of trash bags. Have you bought them lately??!? A couple years ago, I could get 96 quality bags for under $5. Now it will cost me almost $8, for 80. And the box they come in is flimsier! It's not even heavy cardboard, it's barely cardstock weight! So I had to salvage the last heavy box we had. When I get ripped off buy a new box of trash can liners, I toss the box they come in, and put the roll into the old box. I have nightmares that someone with lesser trash can liner fears than mine will toss the old box and I will daily, sometimes more than daily, have to face the fact that I no longer can purchase 96 bags at one time. Seriously, I'm tossing money into the trash can! It's preposterous!

This is my saving grace, though. It proves that I'm not a complete lunatic. It proves that not all trash cans are created equal. It proves that I can find ways to stick it to the man save money.

This came with our house. We bought this house and moved in 5 years ago today. Upon arriving in our new God-provided home, I was pleasantly surprised to find a couple outdoor trash cans loitering around the back door. Great, I thought. Wonderful. I won't have to buy new ones. So I didn't. I didn't care that this one didn't have wheels. I just prop it against the house, or the other trash cans. It works fine. It has serviced our dirty diapers, tomato soup cans (that don't get used on Tom's car), moldy bread, junk mail, used coffee filters, and empty Hershey wrappers faithfully for 5 full years.

But now...after 5 full years ... I have been put on notice. Apparently not everyone appreciates my money-saving finesse.

I've been served collection notices in the past, but they've never made me laugh. Until now... and they have a new twist. It's a NON-collection notice! Yahoo!

Two weeks ago, the trash guys left one can untouched on Trash Day. Sitting there so neat and orderly by the street, they abandoned it! We happened to have some extra stuff out that day, so I thought we were over our "limit", although we typically are and nothing ever happens. They're so nice, and they need our junk so much, they just take it for us. Our solution was to have the boys haul a couple of extra bags over to a neighboring house which never puts ANY trash out, because it's owned by a church and not occupied. The pastor's wife told us years ago if we had an occasion where we had extra trash, we were welcome to put it out at that curb, because the church pays for trash pickup for that location anyway. This was the first time we've taken advantage of her offer. (This pastor's wife had some of her own trash disappear a year or so ago, and she thought she was losing her mind. As it turns out, the police had swiped her trash bags from her curb in an effort to nail some drug dealers they thought might be dumping evidence in other people's trash. Ha!)

Voila! Problem solved. But wait! Two days ago, Preston Savannah brought in this lovely little green sticker from the handle of our free trash can. Now we know the real reason they left us in a lurch for trash space!

Have I mentioned we've lived here, and used this very same trash can, for 5 years???!??

I'm not sure why we're getting a sticker from the "Village of Delta" trash collectors. Tri-State Waste has always provided trash pickup for our village, to my knowledge. So I'm going to defend these guys by assuming that Tri-State must have subcontracted that day out to Delta, a town some 30-odd miles away from us. These guys would have no knowledge of my aversion to spending money on new trash cans, and as Tom pointed out, it is slightly difficult to keep the can standing up, with no wheels on it. This might explain why there was a dirty diaper left lying in my front yard after the truck pulled away...

But do you think I'm spending money on a new trash can now?

Think again. If I can screw a piece of wood onto the bottom of this puppy and stabilize it, I will not be replacing this trash can any time soon. The Trash Gods can just deal with it.


Teresa said...

Um, since when do trash can HAVE to have wheels? Our regular-sized ones in town didn't have wheels. I've seen lots of cans with no wheels, rolling around the streets after a windy day. The displays at Walmart don't specify which cans to use in which city. And you have to pay MORE for wheels. Sounds like a conspiracy to me.....

Paula said...

This has made me laugh, so thank you.

as far a germ-a-phobic. I keep a very large bottle in my purse. I use after everywhere I go. as well as Lysol wipes to clean my buggy before using. So I UNDERSTAND!

*~Tamara~* said...


Only you, my dear. Only you could have this much drama over trash cans, AND manage to make such a long, hysterical blog post about it.

Maybe the green tag is from a surplus store or something. Everyone's tightening their belts you know, so they have to make do. Maybe if y'all had approved the new budget, they could afford stickers that have the right name on them. Bwah ha!

Grandy said...

I hadn't thought about the Doctor's office and pharmacy thing. UGH!! I have a lot to learn about being a germ-o-phobe.

So, about that trash can...why do they need the wheels? You're the one that gets it out there to the side of the road, right? Our guys don't even use the wheels.

Grandy said...

Hey thermos lady! I'm having trouble getting an email to ya. Can you email me and I'll send you my questions for my Sunday Stalker Spotlight? :)

Deanna said...

Teresa - I'm with you. You know how I am about conspiracies.

Paula - some of the stores around here even have wipes available by the carts - they must watch Monk. ;-)

Tam - we're paying for a new school we didn't need to begin with - guess we'll have to go with knock-off stickers for the next 30 years.

Mary - watch Monk; it's cheap entertainment with a side helping of psychiatry to boot! And I emailed you this morning.

MerMer said...

Couldn't help but critique what was IN your trash can and noticed there's some recyclable(sp?) stuff in there. Does the city or county (or whoever) offer recycling bins for u to set out w/your recyclables in it for pick-up? We have saved on space in the trash bags and trash tags ($2.50 per tag that u slap on your garbage bag or trash can) since we have been recycling and using the bins supplied by the county. It's not free, but we don't have to pay for it since the charges are included in the annual taxes for the homeowner. And we rent! Yay!

Deanna said...

Ouch, Mer! $2.50 a tag?!? Is that one tag per bag?
We have recycling bins, and I actually use them. But I forget just how much can actually be recycled, or I just get lazy about it. Even then, I'd still have to use the illegal trash can. I'm just gonna blame everything on the kids. They're sleeping, they won't know.