The Attack of the Garbage Snatchers

What is the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over, while expecting different results. Right? What about when your insanity is inflicted on the people around you? What is that called? Marriage? Maybe.

Yes folks. It’s that time again. Time for me to tell another amusing story.

I don’t even know this guy. Only in passing. I have no right or reasonable ability to judge him or his situation. However, I can sure point out his habits. Without going too deep into the psychological or spiritual aspects of his routine, I will just tell what I see.

My neighborhood features trash day every Tuesday and Friday. Our area doesn’t supply trash cans. we provide our own. Most of us do. For the last two years, we have observed the same routine. Monday and Thursday night, we all roll our trash cans down to the end of the driveway. Sometimes it’s like a synchronized movement. Very entertaining.

One particular neighbor walks two or three kitchen trash bags down and leaves them by the road. Their trash is always full of delicious leftovers and other delicacies that bring the wildlife out in force. Since plastic trash bags offer virtually no resistance to attack, the above mentioned delicacies are then spread out like a buffet. It becomes a bi-weekly celebration for the joyful animals.

Raccoons, armadillos, opossums, squirrels, crows and eventually buzzards all join in the party. Each one taking only what they need and leaving the wrappers for someone else. None are greedy enough to take all this away. Just pick through it and take what you need. Of course.

In the history of the world, no raccoon has ever voluntarily cleaned up his mess or closed a trash can. Their objective is the exact opposite. That would be excellent pest control. Any volunteers to retrain wildlife? No? Well then, we have to work around them. Don’t we?

My amazingly wonderful, compassionate and highly organized wife has minimal tolerance for litter. She honestly convinced me to spend a vacation day picking up trash on Tybee Island several years ago. Pretty much the whole day. Yes. She did. Not something I would have done on my own.

I know for a fact, that if our evening walks involve passing this house on Monday or Thursday night, we will be picking up trash. It was a regular thing. I would bet that most of our neighbors have picked up this trash as well. It covers most of that part of the street by morning. No idea how long this has been going on.

So we snuck down there one night, picked up the trash and donated a trash can with a locking lid. Problem solved. Right? Nope. Those animals were so used to this routine that they still manage to get that can knocked over and pull the lid off every time. They know where their goodies are and no plastic can will stop them. And, apparently, they still drop bags next to it. That’s called bait.

This routine has been going on for so long that the animals don’t seem to bother any other trash in the entire neighborhood. They know exactly which house to hit and when. He has trained the local wildlife to come to a regular meeting. Amazing.

So again, after walking my daughter to the bus stop, I observed the carnage from last night’s feeding frenzy. Open can, mutilated bag, garbage covering his yard and driveway. Liquefied muck on the road, shreds of plastic bags blowing gently in the wind. Potpourri of rancid leftovers. Yum.

Here’s what I have been thinking about. Destructive habit and routines.

What am I still doing, day after day, that is creating problems for the people around me? What are the routines that make life difficult for my wife and kids? What messes are others cleaning up for me that I don’t even notice? What vermin are still looking for me every week to supply their habits and needs? What problems do I bring home in my daily routine?

What about you?

Does your wife have to pick up behind you? If you understood how much your home is an extension of her, maybe you would be more considerate. Most women want a clean home. Most will tolerate a slob if he is a good man. Eventually, a lot get sick of it and just learn to live with the mess. Dropping your junk and leaving it for her brings problems home.

Are you stepping over the same problems every week? A broken window. Squeaky door. Toilet that runs all night. Hole in a wall. Pile of junk in the house. Leaking pipes. Burned out light bulbs. Bills not getting paid on time. Broken down car in the yard. Garbage all over your driveway and yard twice a week?

The stuff that has been a problem for so long that you don’t see it, still bothers her.

This is me preaching to me. You just decided to read along. I still find stuff I miss. But. I listen when she points it out. I don’t believe in making her wait. I don’t believe in ignoring her. I believe that if it’s important to her, it better be important to me. I you aren’t sure about something bothering your wife… Ask her. Unless she is intimidated by you, she will tell you what bothers her. Try it.

As for my neighbor, I don’t know if the trash bothers his wife or not. Maybe she has just given up and accepted that that’s part of her routine now. Cleaning up trash out of the yard twice a week. Maybe she doesn’t care. Maybe she does. Maybe that’s a small representation of how he lives. Maybe he just doesn’t care about what bothers her. Maybe she is open to leaving him because he shows her week after week that she doesn’t matter. Who knows?

Are you allowing things to damage your home? Things you could easily fix if you just made a little effort? I know. Excuses are just so much easier than actually doing stuff. Just consider it.

I don’t want my wife or my neighbors cleaning up my messes. I don’t want people to avoid me or despise me because of my bad habits. I don’t want to add pressure to my wife. I want to make life better for her everyday. I want to find solutions, not step over problems. I want to be the guy making my neighborhood better, not trashing it.

Which one are you?

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