Mister Thompson calls the waiter, orders steak and baked potato
(Then) he leaves the bone and gristle and he never eats the skin
The busboy comes and takes it, with a cough contaminates it
(And he) puts it in a can with coffee grounds and sardine tins
And the truck comes by on Friday and carts it all away
A thousand trucks just like it are converging on the Bay
Oh, Garbage, garbage, garbage, garbage
We’re filling up the seas with garbage
What will we do when there’s no place left
To put all the garbage
And now, from our ongoing series Tales Of The Justice…
Who says that justice is dead? Finally, a punishment that fits the crime.
Meet garbage man Kevin McGill, 48, resident of Atlanta, Georgia, husband, and father of two children. His crime? Reporting to work too early. The punishment? Thirty (30) days in jail.
For once the justice system finally seems to be working. Really, shouldn’t reporting too early to work always result in jail time? I think so!
I humbly suggest we make this a constitutional amendment. I sustain the motion!
For those OCD nitwits out there who demand more detail I’ll reluctantly say this. His job is picking up the garbage. A city ordinance says that garbage shall not be picked up earlier than 7 a.m. McGill, obviously a true go-getter in the refuse collection industry, started his shift early. This naturally startled residents in an affluent neighborhood of Sandy Springs, a suburb located north of Atlanta.
Naturally the startled residents, hearing the terrifying sounds of a garbage truck around 5 a.m., responded to the situation by calling 9-1-1.
I hate to even think what I would have done in similar circumstances. Of course you call 9-1-1. That’s what you do. That’s what public service ads on television have been telling us for years. 9-1-1 is reserved for the important stuff. I probably would have gone further and voided my bladder and bowels. That feels like the Sandy Springs thing to do.
Residents of the wealthy neighborhood reportedly include Herman Cain and “professional athletes and executives for Delta Air Lines.” We now pause for these commercial messages while I cancel my subscription to ESPN and make new travel arrangements.
Thankfully the culprit was apprehended and the garbage in his truck was (presumably) seized into state’s evidence. Finally a task worthy of Atlanta CSI.
“One thing’s for sure,” said the star du jour while removing his super-sparkly sunglasses. “Something about this case stinks.” He then made some comment about keeping a “lid” on news coverage.
Justice was quickly served. The prosecutor (chief solicitor) wanted 30 days in jail. It was McGill’s first offense. McGill voluntarily agreed to the “plea deal” without a lawyer present and only accompanied by a representative of Waste Management, Inc., who was expecting nothing more than a routine $1,000 fine.
The prosecutor stood by the outcome saying it was right to go after McGill personally rather than his employer. “Fines don’t seem to work,” he said. “The only thing that seems to stop the activity is actually going to jail.” Yes, these are real verbatim quotes.
Fortunately, by press time and despite the fact that the story had been picked up internationally, the city and the judge had a miraculous change of heart and the charges were dropped. Yeah, just like that. That’s how they roll in Sandy Springs. Bag it and tag it. This case is done.
Suddenly the solicitor was saying whacky shit like 30 days in jail for violation of a noise ordinance was “disproportionate to a first-time offense.”
They sure do keep things classy in those ritzy neighborhoods.
We consider ourselves fairly typical Americans. It was a few nights before the Fourth of July, decidedly my least favorite night of the year. We were in our living room, sitting on our asses and watching TV. Like I said, typical.
Suddenly there was a boom. I looked out the front window and billowing smoke rose from our front yard garden. It had begun.
“Those fireworks are close,” I said. “Damn close.” The shit was literally raining down right on top of us.
On July 4th itself I went outside to see what the hell was going on. I saw one of those colorful bursts like you’d see in any major fireworks display except it was directly over my house. It went off about 20-30 feet over our roof. Two things were immediately obvious: Why don’t they do this shit above their own houses? They’re too good for that! And, wow, they are really good shots. We were being targeted.
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I know, I know! I deserve what I get when I leave the house. Stepping out into the world is exactly like asking for it.
I can’t help it. Stuff happens. I guess it’s all my fault for observing it. If I was oblivious then maybe it wouldn’t bother me.
But what has been seen cannot be unseen. Leaving the house is where the empirical process of data collection begins.
Sometimes, rarely, it works in my favor. Like two weeks ago when we went to the movies. I had to pee so I walked into the auditorium-sized men’s room. Along one wall was a line of 20 urinals. I picked my spot and made a beeline. Along the way I spotted the guy. You know, the one asshole who exists in every social situation. He was standing at a urinal, doing his business with one hand, and talking away on the iPhone in the other. Millennials call that multitasking. I call it being a dill hole.
That’s when The Miracle happened in the blink of an eye.
Clackity clack clack clack.
The iPhone got dropped. And there it went! Zoom zoom! Clackity clack all the way across that pee-covered bathroom floor. The guy stood there, still holding his other device, and lamely watched it go.
It just goes to show that – sometimes – good things can happen. It was pure serendipity and, for one brief moment in time, I forgot all about pain. I was in the moment.
Last night I left the house again but the empirical results were decidedly not as fun. Not by a long shot.
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The greater the change, the greater the likelihood it will stab directly into your heart like a stiletto and abscond with your life.
–Tom B. Taker
As some of you may already know, my wife and I recently made a big move. Excepting a trip to Mars (where I’m currently on file as a one-way volunteer) it ranks as pretty substantial as far as moves go. We went from the quiet rural lifestyle of a tiny goat farm in the Himalayas and a village of 42 souls to one of the most urbane existences possible in the heart of a big city: Portland, Oregon.
What follows are a few of our observations and experiences.
I hate people who think they are above the law. How rude! Such bad form! Like people who park in the fire lane to use the ATM rather than walking the 20 feet from a legitimate parking space. Or people who say they made charitable donations on their tax returns when they really didn’t. I loathe and despise that sort of thing.
People who park on the wrong side of the street also make that list.
Yet here, in Portland, there’s so much of it that it’s hard to imagine that it’s actually illegal. In fact, it almost seems like parking on the wrong side of the street is the norm and parking legally is the aberration. It’s that prevalent.
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For eight years we’ve tried not to obtain any AA batteries. Instead we got a fancy charger and four sets of batteries to feed (in an eco-friendly way) our power-hungry cameras. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to take masterpiece photographs like the one featured in this very post.
Even so, occasionally we’d fail and still somehow end up buying those piece of shit single-use AAs. I couldn’t bring myself to toss them in the trash so I stuck ’em in a jar on the shelf. The thought of my used up batteries leeching chemicals into the Earth thousands of years after I was gone just didn’t sit right with me.
Over time the collection slowly grew. I tried to put it out of my mind. No place local would take them. I had no clue what to do.
Moving day looms large. It’s only three days until I’m supposed to fill that truck. Meanwhile, what to do with my rotting collection of AA carcasses? My choices seem obvious. Pack them and haul them to the new house (even more dead weight up used up possessions) or give up and throw them in the garbage because my body is destroyed from packing and I have no fight left in me.
I guess I could throw them in a fire and roast hotdogs and marshmallows on them. Seems a fitting end. For both of us.
Sometimes the path of giving up and giving in can lead to the ultimate liberation. I should know. I have plenty of experience with both.
Ah, shit. I don’t have the guts to toss ’em in the landfill. I guess they’ll make a nice paperweight in my new office. Till death do us part! Maybe I can be buried with them. “Here lies Tom B. Taker. He’s all charged up about it.”
Factoid: In 2010 Americans expended 250 million tons of trash. 93.2 percent consisted of the Solo 2 oz Plastic Souffle Cup.
I often wonder what it would be like to explain certain aspects of my existence to an isolated indigenous person who was totally unaware of the modern world. I have the feeling that even mundane things like money, banks, interest rates, and mortgage-backed securities with post-load risk factors (fully assumable) would be hard to communicate with hand gestures. (Aside from the obvious one, I mean. I have a feeling they could pick that one up pretty quick.)
“You see, Ndugu, this is what we call a storage unit.”
“Meester Tom, what is this place? It is quite strange. I feel we should not be here.”
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Every story has a beginning…
Ack. God, I hate that shit. Of course every story has a beginning. No shit, Sherlock. And every journey begins with a single step. Blah blah blah. Unless, of course, it’s The Never Beginning Story. I’ll bet that story doesn’t have a frickin’ beginning. Because it’s never beginning. Hells yeah! That makes sense to me. I may have to do a 42-part web series on the never beginning story. I’d like that.
Here, let me take a crack at this sort of nonsense. “Every story can be told at least two ways.” Cryptic enough for ya? Whatever. This is my story. And it all begins on a Tuesday morning not too long ago…
I knew it was my wife. Through the plexiglass that separated us (conveniently sprinkled with air holes) I sensed that see she was angry. Her nostrils flared. She was about to speak.
“Don’t,” I said, interrupting her before she started. “Something has gone wrong, hasn’t it?”
“Good morning, Tom,” she said. “Yes, something has gone wrong.”
“Closer,” I said. “Closer, please.”
She took a step forward and the light from my room illuminated her a bit more fully.
“Tom, you …,” she started, but I sniffed at the air between us, thick with tension, and she hesitated.
“You don’t smell of garbage,” I said. “Sometimes you do, but not today. No, not today. It’s my job isn’t it? A man’s job, but sometimes you still have to do it yourself. You stand there in your fancy shoes and try to pretend your husband always does his share of the chores. But today he didn’t, did he?”
I sniffed at the air again, longer this time. “No, he didn’t. And neither did you. But the smell of garbage is still there. Not from you, no. From the kitchen. From the bin that your husband didn’t take out. Isn’t that right, Clarice?”
“Yes, it’s Tuesday morning, isn’t it? Monday is when he takes out the trash. Because we all know what happens if he doesn’t.”
“Do you know what you look like standing there with your fancy shoes and your faith in your husband? You look like a rube, Clarice.”
Her eyes showed momentary surprise. She was shaking now.
“Last night you heard it, didn’t you? The awful sound of your garbage not being picked up.”
I pressed on.
“You still wake up sometimes, don’t you? Wake up in the dark and hear the silence of the garbage not being picked up?”
“And you think, if you could somehow motivate poor Tom, that garbage would be gone by now, don’t you? You think if the garbage was gone, you wouldn’t wake up in the dark ever again to that awful silence of the garbage not being picked up.”
“I don’t know. I don’t know.”
“Thank you, Clarice.”
Eh? The other way of telling the story? It goes like this: “Tuesday morning my wife told me I forgot to take out the trash.” Now you tell me. Which version did you like better?