Clearly garbage


Today’s post is garbage.  No, really, it’s all about garbage.

I’ve had the distinguished task of taking out the garbage since I reached a height in excess of the garbage bags.  “Back in the day” (gosh, I really must be getting old because I am using that phrase so much more), it seemed like taking out the garbage was the man’s job.  I still hold to that theory, which I don’t see as chauvinistic, and often try to perform the task at parties or at friends’ houses (when needed…don’t think I just randomly ask to take out the garbage everywhere I go).

Mom used a “two-step” process for garbage.  We had something called a “yellow bag”, which was a wire frame that mounted inside the sink counter door and held a (duh) yellow bag…probably about a 4-gallon size.  This was used for the bones, icky leftovers and stuff that she didn’t want to clog the disposal with.  Then we had your standard tall kitchen bag  (around 13-gallons, for those retentive types who like these details and go to movies like “Moneyball”).

When the small bag filled, it would be tied and put in the kitchen bag, which in turn would go out to the (then metal) garbage can.  This was my duty, for which I was first “on call” and then trained enough to check myself.  At a tender age, my Mom ceded me the awesome responsibility of deciding when to tie up the garbage and put it outside.  No wonder I grew up to be the supremely responsible man I am today!

When I got a place of my own, I initially stayed with the two-step system.  As a single man, however, I found the garbage growth significantly less than my childhood.  Considering garbage pickup came twice weekly, I rarely needed more than the single tall kitchen bag.  Another consideration was the Florida climate.  It’s best not to leave organic trash outside in our extremely hot and extremely humid air, even bagged and tied.

Most of the time, I just tied up the kitchen bag and left it downstairs in the trash room.  When I moved to my current home, the bag could be left at the base of the driveway.  Other than landscaping week, where I might have two or three garden size garbage bags (30-gallon, if you’re still keeping score) full of stuff, I rarely needed to use the trash can.

That is, until a few years ago when nature began evolving right before my eyes.  First it was the birds.  Ducks, crows and others would learn to pick at the bags left by me and my neighbors.  Then came the squirrels; these little (actually, some pretty hefty ones) critters figured out how to pull bags down from open trash cans and, in some way that suggests superpowers or incredible teamwork, actually knock over a can or two to get the garbage to spill out!

The secret to defeating the squirrels seemed to be making sure I was the last one to put my garbage out on pickup day.  This way, they would tire themselves out with everyone else’s stuff.  They also weren’t as aggressive after the sun was up for a while.  Occasionally, I had to have a stern talk with one who might be inching his way over to my bag, but overall, the solution seemed to be successful.

Finding the right garbage bag is not the easiest thing, either.  It’s critical to get a good quality bag with a decent millage (thickness).  Matching price to performance is tricky.  For a while, the generic Wal-Mart bag worked well, until recently they lowered their thickness (probably for cost savings).

Most brand name garbage bags are much too costly for, well, garbage.  I found a reasonable substitute in the Ruffies brand which offered a good thickness and a very good price.  Their only “issue” is that they were sold in large quantities (100 or more) and were in a roll, rather than the more easily accessible box.  Still, it was a little enough inconvenience for the more important benefits.

In a rare situation, I actually ran out of garbage bags last week and had to make an “emergency” run.  Alas, none of my regular bags were available except for this monster roll of bags which had an excellent thickness, but a brand I had never tried before.  Still, desperation breeds…etc.

I noticed something odd about them right away:  these bags were clear.  Hmmm.  That’s almost a little uncomfortable, putting my trash bag on my driveway and having everyone be able to see what’s in the bag (it was an especially bad week with empty Mallomar boxes and some snack chip bags).

Sure, I could use the trash can every time, but for a single bag of trash, that’s asking extra work out of me and the trash pickup guys.  In all consideration, it’s doubtful my neighbors have much interest in staring at my trash.

Curiously, I have had no issues with the birds or squirrels.  Perhaps now that it’s all visible to them, they can see that it’s clearly just garbage.

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