It’s difficult to describe where I live to people. It’d be wrong to call it an apartment complex, because there are no shared walls. But they aren’t truly houses, at least I don’t think so. Six little shacks lining a sloped driveway that leads up to the parking lot, painted in either brick red, navy blue, or the mustard color of our little abode. The best word for them would be “cottages,” but that’s such a douchey word that I’m hesitant to use it. Regardless, my place of residence has an interesting trash set up. Apartment complexes have several sets of dumpsters or garbage chutes that all tenants throw their trash into. Each of our cottages has its own set of garbage and recycling cans. They are comically small. At most you can get 4 bags worth of trash into them. When we moved in, they were pretty far away from our front door and near our parking lot. I moved them closer because there’s a little space in between the houses that can fit both cans. Easier to drop things in that way, I figured. Little did I know that I was opening myself up to shame and embarrassment.
It’s been going on for a few weeks, now. I haven’t minded too much. It’s been a small bag here and there, and we don’t make too much trash anyways. It got out of hand last weekend, when I was out of town and missed trash day. I forgot to text one of my neighbors who hasn’t been abusing my cans to take it out for me, so we missed it. And still, I wasn’t nervous. We’ve missed weeks before and had no problems. We pulled into our driveway Wednesday to find our can, with our address spray painted in bright yellow across all 4 sides, overflowing with trash. It almost ruined my trip to Star Wars Land. You’d think it would be common decency to at least take the damn thing to the curb if you knew it was full and that it was trash day, right? I guess not.
So, for the past week, we’ve been living like hippies, making sure that we’re absolutely certain we have to throw something out, and stretching the idea of what is recyclable and what isn’t. We made one bag of trash for the whole week. The fullest bag of trash you’ve ever seen, like a Glad ForceFlex commercial to show off how stretchy these bad boys can be. Every time I shoved more coffee grounds down to the bottom so that they could disburse and fill in the gaps between food stuffs and protein bar wrappers, I cursed the name of the neighbor who had doomed us to this pathetic life. After all that effort, there was still no room for my trash in my trash can. I was forced to become what I hated the most, and put my trash in someone else’s can (my girlfriend calls it “reverse dumpster diving”). At least I had the decency to put it in one that was already at the curb. Then, I had to feel the shame of bringing the cans to the curb that I didn’t even fill. I’ll save the metaphor here, we’re all thinking it.
I had a hunch as to who it was, but my suspicions were confirmed two days ago. Our next door neighbors to the right. We don’t have each other’s names down perfectly, but we’re civil enough. She’s British. He has a ponytail. Make of that what you will, but I saw him with my own eyes. Well, sort of. I saw him walking away from the cans, dusting his hands off, which seems incriminating to me. That coupled with hearing the can slam shut and then their door open moments later seems like damning evidence to me.
So I’ve got a suspect, but now what? There’s no evidence, it gets destroyed once a week. Texting him seems like the coward move, but walking over and knocking on their door seems like overkill. A passive aggressive text in our neighborhood group sounds appealing, but I feel like it would make the whole situation too uncomfortable at our next BBQ. But it’s all I can think about. Every time I’ve driven by that can for the past week it’s had half a white trash bag sticking out of it like a tongue, taunting me. I think, more than anything, I want to know why. It’s obvious that they’re using it because it’s close to them, but what’s up with their cans? How much trash are these people producing? I have a theory about this. They used to be the last ones to bring their cans back in after they were emptied. I think either the city or some hooligans took it to teach them a lesson. The sad truth of it is, they didn’t learn anything, and I’m still suffering.
My name is Pete, and I’m a trash can cuck. Please help.