Oct 13, 2011

New religion?

What's wrong with this picture?

Here's a hint. It should look like this:

Today is Thursday. Garbage and recycling cans should be sitting out at our front curb, awaiting their weekly (or in our case, every-other-weekly) pickup by dear old Bend Garbage and Recycling Company. It has been thus for lo, these many years. Maybe 20. Before that, the pickup was on Friday. That change of day wasn't too painful. But recently we got The Letter that rocked our world, telling us our neighborhood pickup day was changing to ........... Monday.

What?! That can't be! It's just ....... WRONG.

Many decades ago, my sweetheart and I, in our youthful arrogance and ignorance, did not appreciate, much less notice, the finer points of garbage. In fact, when we moved into our current house, in 1978, we had never had garbage pickup from our home. Our first homes together -- cheap rentals and rural boondocks property during our college years -- required us to take our trash to the landfill personally, which we did once a month or so. (Recycling was still years in the future.)

Once we moved to Bend, even living in the city limits, we continued the DIY thing. It was only by accident that we stumbled on a whole new world. The guy we bought this house from was so disorganized and slow that he forgot to have garbage service cancelled once he moved out. Thus we awoke one morning, soon after moving in, to find a large garbage truck parked in front of our house, and a nice man hiking back to his truck from our side yard, where he had spotted our garbage cans -- which we had coincidentally installed in the same location as the previous owner had his -- and emptied them into his truck. Wow. How cool was that?

It happened again the following week, and by then we realized we had better set things straight. Upon calling the garbage company to cancel the pickup, it occurred to us that instead we could simply CHANGE THE SERVICE OVER TO OUR NAMES and we could join the rest of the suburban world in weekly garbage pickup. We felt so modern. So grownup.

But that was only the beginning of Garbage Awareness in our lives. Now that we were participants in the weekly event , we began to notice various unique behaviors of our neighbors, related to garbage. Some, like us, tended to wait until the last minute, and be hauling everything out to the can and sprinting to the curb, as the garbage trucks came down the block at 6:00 am. Others, however, set their cans out the night before. Extreme garbageists -- for we began to see this weekly activity as some kind of arcane ritual, with rules and techniques all its own -- set the cans out WHILE IT WAS STILL DAYLIGHT, the day before pickup. This seemed extreme -- or obsessive -- or both. And we began to think more deeply about the whole thing.

We observed that the extreme garbageists tended to be 'older' though of course when this all started, we were only in our 20's, and almost everyone was older than we were. We even laughed at these people, most of them male, for their fanatical zeal. My own dear father was a rather severe example of the old guy garbage zealot, especially after Mom died. He had to restrain himself from snatching newspapers out of our hands while we were still reading them, so we could put them in the recycling. He was once observed standing under a small deciduous tree in his yard on a lovely clear autumnal day, frowning and shaking his fist at the tree because it hadn't yet released all its dying leaves so he could get them raked up and taken away. Why can't they all fall at once, he grumbled.

I suppose it was inevitable that, in the end, and probably because we too were getting older, we began to see the greater beauty in garbage service, in fact, as a sort of religion for everyman. It was simple and clear. Like other religions, it includes a worthy priesthood (the garbage truck drivers), rituals (weekly pickup, make sure your cans are accessible at the curb), seasonal liturgical calendar (pickup one day later in the week at Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's), and even a pilgrimage site (the local landfill) for those desiring that extra feeling of holiness and 'proof'.

In return, it demands only that weekly homage and offering up of the cans, and a small monthly monetary contribution to the head office. We began to see that weekly pickup as a kind of sacrament, much like confession and communion, all rolled into one. Think about it. There are so many terrible things happening in the world: hunger, war, pollution, greed ......... there is a lot to worry about. But most of those things are beyond our small, personal ability to change. By worrying about the garbage instead, there is weekly, inspirational clearing of the slate, as that stuff heads off to the landfill. All the petty worries of the week can be focused and expressed in a few short hours. The larger questions: 'what if the drivers miss our house? 'what if it's really recycling this week and not yard debris?' or, worst of all, 'what if we forget to put out the cans in time?!' are all answered irrefutably by noon of Garbage Day. And so our weekly schedule could be joyfully arranged around that immutable Thursday morning service.

Then came The Letter. No cushioning of the blow with hints about New Revelations From Garbage Elders Portend Changes in Worldwide Trash Dispersal .... just the stark wording stating the end of garbage life as we had known it: 'in order to consolidate routes and save expenses, your garbage and recycling pickup day has been changed to ................. Monday.

Monday!? That's impossible. We'll have to change our whole weekly schedule. They can't do that -- can they? IReading this alarming missive at home, I texted the sweetheart, at work, in a panic.

Garbage pickup changed to MONDAYS. Stop.
Can they do that?! Stop.
Completely discombobulated by this news. Stop.
Considering moving to a neighborhood with proper pickup day. Stop.
Awaiting further instructions.

Am too upset to answer. THIS Monday?!

Maybe we should look for a new religion?
But we have until the 10th to comes to grips with the situation.
If you're not super busy you could call & ask how I'm doing......

We have now had 2 weeks to adjust to the shocking news. After lengthy discussions, we have decided not to sell our house and move to a Thursday neighborhood. We are determined to adapt and change with the times. Religions are merely frail, fallable institutions created by man. We will do our best to rise above these mundane setbacks, and keep our eyes raised to the higher planes, despite the seeming insanity of church policy beyond our reach. Monday has always been housecleaning day. We will vacuum and sweep while the garbage trucks trundle through our streets, and continue our spiritual devotion and monthly titheing. It even makes a kind of sense, all that cleanliness happening, indoors and out, simultaneously.

The thing that may take longer to heal, though, is that feeling of emptiness on Thursday mornings, when the sound of the garbage truck is not heard in the land........

1 comment:

  1. And verily, they were called upon to worship on another day, to come out apart from the heathens and the unholy, to recycle on the holy first day. And the righteous did arise early upon the first work day in the Land of America and bring unto the curbside altar their offerings as instructed by their Almighty. Amen