Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Taking Out the Trash

It’s a fight every week.  Actually, it happens twice a week because garbage pickup occurs every Tuesday and Friday, but still it’s a battle being waged.  Recycling is picked up on Wednesdays but I can understand that being forgotten once in awhile since they changed the schedule, but after a couple of weeks I would think he would know.  But, he doesn’t, not until 7:30 the mornings of and that’s because I’m screaming at him as he’s still sleeping.  “Get the damn trash out!”  He leaps out of bed still groggy and tripping over his quilt to scurry around the house emptying all of the small garbage containers into one big one that he has to wheel down to the road. 

He gets the luxury of a rolling can because Waste Management spent thousands of dollars giving each home a giant green garbage can with wheels and a little bar across the front that a mechanical arm can now reach out and grab to lift the trash container into the air to dump our uneaten leftovers into the huge garbage truck for compressing and hauling away.  Counting the cost of the truck, millions of dollars were probably spent in order to lay off a few employees.  A century later they may even recoup their investment.  Of course, now all of those twenty dollar garbage cans at Home Depot are useless because they don’t have those little bars across the front and the trash collector will not get out of his truck to manually dump the trash.  He will get out of his truck, however, to pin a note to your old container telling you to use the green trash can next time.

 Zac tried the same thing, wanting to invest in a robot that would make the rounds dumping the smaller trash containers but I reminded him that a robot required no food and could easily replace him in other areas like flushing the toilet.  He didn’t want to be the first son laid off from the family, so he continued to take out the trash.

Taking out the trash becomes an even greater issue after a holiday, family gathering or Zac forgetting for two weeks straight to get it down to the road.  The Waste Management people only gave us one green can with the tiny bar but my family needs more.  We have garbage, lots of garbage, and require multiple cans.  They have no right to limit our garbage amount!  We went from three cans to just the one and that was a totally backwards step.  At first, I thought it was the girls’ idea to make me eat and drink less since there was now a smaller place for empty cans and Doritos bags.  They assured me that wasn’t the case, but I noticed fewer boxes of food in the pantry.

I started recycling since the collectors of trash also gave us a green can for that very purpose but, as I said this only added to Zac’s memory problem of getting the right can down to the road on the right day.

I was going to buy another can but at seventy bucks a pop I decided it was best to put the trash in the van and take it to an apartment complex dumpster.  I was going to leave it in a shopping cart at Walmart but the girls didn’t agree with my “Returning it to the source” mentality.  So, at times the trash piles up with no place to go.

One of the most heart wrenching trips I've ever taken occurred when I traveled to Haiti one Christmas.  The poverty and the devastating living conditions sliced my heart, which is a difficult feat as I don’t even get sad at shivering stray animals in the cold.  There was no running water in Haiti and only a rare few had electricity.  It was really strange seeing what looked like an extension cord running from Cap Haitien to Milot to one lone house with a small lamp flickering.  Even the mission compound I stayed at ran on a generator and when it broke, which it did, we were left blind.

As we toured the area around the compound, the missionary showed us a small river that the people had started treating as a dump.  I’ve pitched the idea to the girls since we now have a pool, but they were unwilling to turn the pool into a tennis court.  I wasn’t really surprised by the river, however.  We had already passed over another where the Haitians washed clothes as well as themselves and also used it as a giant toilet.  No flushing needed.  Zac would have been thrilled.  So, the fact that they converted a once beautiful river into a dumpster saddened me but did not surprise me.  The trash had to go somewhere since there was no official waste management program.  So, it went into the river to the sea and then to an American treasure hunter.

What the missionary said next, however, did shock me.

"That river used to be about a football field wider."

Now, I don’t know much about football – okay, I know absolutely nothing about football - but I do know the length of the field because I watched Nathan graduate on one and it was all marked out.  Counting the lines gave me something to entertain myself with while the other 467 graduates had their names called out.  I stared at the water filled with sludge and trash, amazed.  Shacks were constructed between us and the waterline on the space that used to be part of the river.  People who had once lived up on the mountains with no houses had come down and built homes on the trash.  The refuse had become the building's foundation.  It was like someone here in the States building their homes on top of the local dump.  How can you construct anything on yesterday's trash?

And yet, we do it all the time.  We try to build a future based on the mistakes of the past.  We hold tight to broken relationships and friendships that really only litter our lives.  They have no substance and some even cause us to either move backwards or, at the best, stagnate.  While nothing in these people may be "trashy", to our lives they only add negativity and, therefore, must be taken to Life's curb.

The same can be said of habits.  You cannot build success on behavior that hinders you from achieving your goals.  Procrastination, laziness, an easily-distracted mind, disorganization, these are traits that need to go in order to achieve the things that matter most to you.

At the end of the year everyone makes resolutions whether they admit it or not.  "This year, I'm getting that new car" or "This is the year I put the guest room together and even invite someone to use it."  They are things you want to accomplish and making goals is great.  However, until you chuck the junk of the previous year, there's no room for more.  Hoarders keep junk, but there is more than just physical hoarding.  There is emotional and mental as well.

My dad is a pack rat.  Many people his age are because they grew up not having even the basic stuff.  To be honest, I was just as bad until a couple of years ago and I didn't grow up wanting.  Some say I haven't grown up, but that's another post.  Dad keeps everything "just in case."  A friend, Larry, will walk down the road, see a piece of wood and pick it up to stack in his garage.  "You never know when this might come in handy."  Sadly, people do this with their lives and the stuff they're holding onto is unhealthy.

It's time to let it go, let it all go.  Before this year progresses to far take an inventory of what - or who - is piling up and see if perhaps cutting some strings wouldn't improve your future vision.  I make it a rule never to hang around negative people or people who seem to thrive on drama.  I don't need it.  No one does.  Life has enough built in drama without people adding to it with their soap opera lives.  Don't get me wrong now.  I'm not saying that people don't fall on hard times or go through crises that need our shoulders and sometimes our hands or wallets.  If you turn your back on those people then you're not a friend and, in my opinion, barely a human.  No, I'm talking about the people who seem to always be in the thick of chaos because they continuously make stupid choices.

Taking out the trash means getting rid of activities that hinder you from accomplishing your dreams.  Find whatever it is that's holding you back and either eliminate it or change it.  Then you have plenty of room for new and exciting things to happen.


  1. wow, thank you. This definitely gave me something to think about today

  2. OMG! The beginning of this story could be about Cody! Great read as always Rob, and something to look at in my own life. Thank you.

  3. Thsnks ladies! I'm glad you both enjoyed it.