Tuesday, March 15, 2011

One woman’s trash. . . is a(nother) man’s problem

I’ve discovered if we leave things out on our carport, people will take them. Even stuff you’d think nobody would want. Sure, we left some stuff out there we clearly shouldn’t have – our brand-new, gas-powered weed-eater, for example, and my son’s $200 mountain bike. But why would somebody want to steal a gap-toothed rake, or a busted water hose?

One time somebody actually stole our trash can. Strange enough in itself, the can went missing for a couple of weeks, then inexplicably found its way home again. Wish I could say the same for our patio furniture. But then trash seems to be a recurring issue at our house, so I guess it’s only fitting that the can is the one item that, so far, has reappeared.

Twice a week we dutifully put our trash out at the street, hoping the city will get it before the neighborhood dogs do. For some reason the trash collectors often skip our house – the scrap thieves, however, are much more reliable.

Recently, I figured out a way to work this to my advantage. We had an old, broken-down washing machine. Not worth fixing. We just wanted it gone. No point in hauling it to the dump, I figured – if we just put it in the yard, somebody will take it. Sure enough, by lunchtime, the washer was gone; the trash, meanwhile, still sat at the street.

Fortunately, I have a personal hotline to my designated city official for handling these curbside breaches and slipshod trash service. Well, not really, but I can pick up the phone and throw around my tax-payer status, making emphatic (if idle) threats to go to the media, mayor, or (if I’m really feeling the spirit) a fanatical activist group, if somebody doesn’t get their butt over there and get my garbage.

Trash talk.

Which, to be truthful, is about as involved as I like to get with the actual “trash” scenario. I, like intelligent women everywhere, deem anything trash-related – along with pumping gas, heaving heavy luggage and killing spiders – as a “man’s” job.

Childbirth notwithstanding, my exemption from these unpleasant duties makes me glad to be a female – and the mother of a son. Yes, there are many other, much more important reasons I’m thankful to be a mom. I do have the best kid in the world (all bias aside); there’s an abundance of homemade holiday cards, school photos, honor roll ribbons (okay, not as many of those), milestone mementos and magnetized, original kid artwork adorning my refrigerator right now to prove it. But having a son is extra good for a mom, because when an adult male (i.e., father) figure is not available, male offspring can handle all the designated man chores we of the fairer sex are much too “delicate” to deal with personally.

But then, being delicate doesn’t mean we can’t get rough-and-tumble when we need to be. Just watch how a mom transforms when somebody tries to cross her kid. I myself can go martial-arts on somebody pretty quick – I’ve watched enough Walker, Texas Ranger to throw a real hurting down – when the trash-talking alone doesn’t get the job done.

Basically it comes down to this. We throw our trash out there, literally and figuratively, and just hope for the best. Scavengers can have (and do have, actually) my barbecue grill, but they can’t have my child’s handprint cut-outs on the refrigerator. My son has a thing about leaving empty food cartons in the fridge, though – the scavengers can have those. Assuming they make it to the trash can, of course, and the canines don’t get them first.

~ By Jean Bowick

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