Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The following I wrote as part of my column this week in the newspapers I edit, but I'd like to add a little more.

Garbage isn't the topic that has my top of mind awareness most of the time, but in the City of Homes there are issues that surround the disposal of garbage.

Down the street at the abandoned nursing home, people routinely dump everything from bags of trash to tires and mattresses. There's a mattress there now. In the city we have a bulk pick-up policy that is not big dead. You call. You pay $12 or so per item and it's gone.

Some people though seem determined to "beat" the system by just dumping their stuff anywhere they think someone else will deal with it – like the taxpayers.

And the garbage wars contine on another front. The person I profiled below also likes to take the city-owned cans from foreclosed houses, fill them up with his stuff, and then wheel them back in front of the boaded up houses. That way he doesn't have to pay an excess bag fee like the rest of us.

The garbage guys actually pick up the trash from houses that are clearly not occupied and the garbage scammer then collects his cans for another day.

Gentle readers, please let me present Chapter 506 of "Life in the Big City: The Missing Garbage Can."

So Lucky the Wonder Bichon was leading me on my morning walk the other day and like any responsible dog owner I carry a plastic bag to retrieve evidence Lucky had used the facilities.

Our routine is simple: we either walk down Spruce Street to Central and walk down Central a bit or we go the opposite direction and walk down Florence Street. Generally when we walk there are precious few other people on the street and the only animals we tend to encounter are some of the chickens aren't they illegal in the city? walking around their yards and crowing. Oh, yes, and one of the many stray cats who now live in our area.

Fortunately, the roosters in our neighborhood tend not to crow at dawn; otherwise, I would revive my plucking skills.

We complete our walk on Monday morning and I have Lucky's leash in one hand and a bag of poo in the other. I go to drop the bag in our garbage can when I realize I don't have one.

Now I had a can on Sunday night because I emptied trash into it.

I called my wife to tell her that someone has taken our can out of our driveway where it has sat unmolested since the city issued it to us.

While I'm talking to her, I walk past a house being rehabbed and there in the driveway next to another garbage can is my own. I can tell it's mine since I spray-painted our address on it.

I knock on the door of the house and despite there being two cars in the driveway no one answers. I then wheel the can back to my house, open the garage and lock it inside.

Since then the guy doing the rehab has stared at me when he has seen me, expecting me to say something. I'd rather share this little tale of woe with you folks because I'm not sure what kind of profanity would fly out of my mouth. Actually, I do know exactly what kind of profanity would be issued in this case.

Now in light of my impassioned defense of Springfield last week, I'm sure some readers would ask why I like the city when there are clearly folks of such low moral fiber they would steal a trash can. Granted, it is moments such as this one when I question why we live where we live.

We have lived in our neighborhood since 1990 and have had two other petty thefts in 18 years someone stole our basketball hoop off of our garage and a kid ran up on our porch and swiped a hanging basket of flowers. Overall, that's not too bad considering the nature of urban life.

Now add the trash can theft to the bag of McDonald's litter left on the street in front of my house and the candy litter and liquor bottles that sprout in my front garden every time I pick a previous crop and one has a list of little quality of life issues that could easily compel someone to find a home at the end of a half-mile long dirt road surrounded by acres of woods somewhere in Franklin County.

I have to remind myself that weasel-like folks live in the country as well. I'll never forget a guy who wanted to slaughter pigs in an area that abutted our farm in Granby. He had dug a pit and was preparing to suspend the killed pigs over the pit for bleeding and then the slaughtering process something that was violating any number of health regulations. He was stopped, thank goodness, before we had to endure the sounds and smells of pigs being killed and cut up.

My point in all this is it is the little things that can drive me out of a community as well as the big things. The question is what kind of control do we have over the large events, such as a factory closing, or the small ones, such as this harassment? I like to think we could have more control over the smaller issues, but what am I supposed to do? Call the police? I would be able to hear the laughter from the headquarters. Call the Quality of Life Flex Squad over a light-fingered neighbor? I'm sure there will be laughter as well.

I guess what I will do is buy a length of chain and a lock and attach my trash can to the tree in the driveway to deter any future re-assignment. Keeping it in the locked garage is a pain.

And I will more closely observe what the rehab guy and his crew are doing.

These are the times I wish Lucky wasn't a cute little fluffy happy dog, but instead an adult rhinoceros. I would make sure he would use this guy's lawn as his restroom and I wouldn't carry any bags.

© 2008 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

1 comment:

Jeff said...

Hi Mike,

I'd love to pull this (terrific!) blog into MassLive's new blog page sidebar -- could you send me an email when you next get a chance?


Jeff Hobbs,