Updated: Jun 10, 2022
My neighbor, Sterling, complains. It seems I don’t bring my trash cans up promptly. But hey, I’ve got a life, and they’re TRASH CANS!
I’ve got a big brain, too. So, one morning as I watched Sterling take his trash to the curb and leave for work, I got an idea, a how-the-Grinch-stole-Christmas-idea. I grinned and petted my little dog's head.
As the garbage truck rounded the corner, I ran down to the curb and dragged my neighbor’s still-full garbage cans back up his driveway. When the truck had passed by, I dragged them down again. That evening, eager to see Sterling’s expression, I left work early and returned to find him standing on the curb gazing bewildered at the trash still in his trash cans while mine, and everyone else’s, were clearly empty. The next week he put his heaping cans at the curb. Quickly, I once again, hauled them back up his driveway, returning them to the curb when the garbage truck had passed.
That night his shouting rocked the neighborhood. “No, they’re not picking up my trash! It’s been two weeks! 110 Paxinosa Avenue!” I almost felt sorry for the trash guys. You know, like they were little Cindy Lou Who, “Santa, why are you taking our Christmas tree?” I sent my conscience to bed with a glass of water.
The next week Sterling had two cans full of trash and three extra bags. It was a trash party! I crossed my fingers, praying he wouldn’t wait around for the truck. He paced on the sidewalk, but after several glances at his cell phone he got in his light blue Prius, and drove away. I’d barely gotten the trash up his driveway when I heard the truck pull around the corner. On a hunch, I stowed the cans inside his garage and snuck out the back gate.
Wow, talk about dedicated. Those garbage guys actually walked up his driveway and looked around for the cans. They clearly had a note in their hands. They checked his address. Knocked on his door. All this for trash. Impressive.
When they left, I put the cans and the bags at the curb. Took two trips. That night a volcano erupted next door. I felt a little guilty—not a lot guilty—but a little guilty. I mean, I felt guilty in between Grinch giggles.
On trash day eve, nightmares of my neighbor assaulting me with a garbage can lid and a turkey bone troubled my sleep. I woke bleary eyed, to see my neighbor standing at the curb, surrounded by trash. I thought about fessing up, I really did, but…Nope, I just couldn’t get my heart to grow. About then the garbage guys arrived. I ducked behind my window curtains. It was ugly. The shouting, the claims of innocence, “There was no trash!” Shall I speak of the birds shot in the air, the words beginning with…well you get the picture.
About a week later, my neighbor had a backyard barbecue. I brought beer. There were four of us, three neighbors (right, left and across the street) and Sterling, beers in hand, feet on Sterling’s brick retaining wall, when Sterling told the story.
I thought no one knew. But everyone has windows facing the street. When Sterling went inside for more chips, Frank winked at me. Mark held out his hand. “Fifty, or I tell him now.”
I paid the man and opened another can of beer. Despite the blackmail, this was way, way better than roast beast.