I have learned some things about waste management of late.
Specifically, I have learned that the truck that picks up the big-ticket items – your rusted refrigerators, your broken car seats, your scummy patio furniture – arrives at dawn.
I have learned this from experience, that most uncompromising teacher. Last Thursday, 7 hours and 34 minutes before I needed to make a Voluntary Speech on Time Management, new reserves of courage flowed through me. I would no longer procrastinate. I would confront the most urgent task before me, that of throwing out the mattress in the garage. No more excuses: the time had come.
The skies had darkened and we had mid-morning errands to run, so I eagerly shoved the mattress down the driveway and across the unmowed lawn to prop it up against the trash can. We’d set out a similar mattress on a clear Wednesday night weeks ago and happily discovered it was gone the next afternoon, so I felt confident that I would return from Errand Time to an empty can and a mattress-free yard. And not a moment too soon, since the mattress was now smeared with mud and grass. A clearing of space. Such joy this would spark!
Dimly as I drove away, the thought occurred to me: was this the correct pick-up day? Was I right about when we took the other mattress down? Is it kosher with our HOA to set bulk items out in the middle of the day? Should I start working on that speech?
I returned to find the trash truck zipping down the other side of the street. Soon, it would make its circuit past our house. The clouds were roiling, as was my heart. I began to doubt. I hurried from my car into the house, hoping the truck guys would not flag me down and castigate me for my mattress violation.
With 6 hours and 18 minutes until Speech Time, I flattened myself as best I could against the side of the dining room window. Thunder crashing, raindrops blocking my line of sight, I peered at the truck. Its mechanical arm wrenched the trash can from the curb and shook its contents into the container. The truck and its team of occupants remained. I imagined an internal debate over their moral responsibility to deal with the mattress that lady must have left before she scurried inside. That was her, right? Running into the house a few minutes ago? Wait, is she watching us from behind the blinds?
With 6 hours and 16 minutes until Speech Time, I sprinted to the curb to begin dragging the semi-drenched mattress back down the driveway, averting my gaze from the retreating truck. Every second counted now, as the weight of the mattress increased exponentially with each bucket of rain. This CrossFit workout from hell left me grumpy and reproachful. Angry texts were sent to various parties.
Less dimly as I wiped my soggy hair from my face, the thought occurred to me: perhaps there was a number one could call to speak to a person and find out a. the bounty on my head as Trash Offender and b. if maybe – MAYBE – I had missed some details about how bulk waste disposal works.
With 4 hours and 58 minutes until Speech Time (my fear of the phone meant I had to work up more courage), I called the office to find out from the perfectly nice lady that:
- They do pick up mattresses, and
- I did have the right day of the week, but
- There is a whole other 7:00 AM truck for that, so
- I would need to wait two weeks, thus
- We would all be stuck with the soggy consequences of my poor planning until then.
Let’s unpack this situation a little bit. What was the catalyst for this chain of events? Anyone? Did the author leave out critical information, like an imminent need to park an expensive vehicle in the garage or a mysterious benefactor who demanded a mattress-free space for his bags of bank notes?
How would we suppose the speech went?