When I moved here last year, I got a big trash can to put outside for garbage pickup.
The trash can only got emptied about one in every two garbage days. I called the city’s Department Of That Sort Of Thing to ask why it kept getting passed over, and they told me that my trash can was oversized, bigger than the regulations allowed, and so any garbage-people who noticed this would refuse to empty it.
I decided to get rid of the trash can so I could buy a new, correctly-sized version.
Readers, you have never known frustration until you try to get garbage-people to take a trash can.
Like, technically we have a bulk trash pickup day. And the trash can is well under the limit for bulk items that are allowed. So I leave it out on the curb. And about one in every two garbage days, I find that any dust or leaves that have collected in it have been dutifully emptied. One in two days, it hasn’t been emptied, because it’s oversized and against regulations. In either case, the trash can is back on the curb where I left it.
Last week I asked Ozy to make a big sign saying “THIS TRASH CAN IS THE TERRITORY, NOT THE MAP” and stick it on the can. Ozy is a very practical person and I am pretty sure ze wrote something else. Ze stuck the sign to the lid of the trash can. When we woke up, we found the trash can with the lid open, as if someone had checked inside to see if there was any trash. The sign was still on the top of the lid, now hidden against the side of the can.
Next week I think I will write the message. I was thinking something very simple, like “TAKE THIS, THIS IS THE TRASH”. But then the garbage-people would probably just take the sign.
I need something subtler, something that jars them out of their everyday reality to a deeper level of understanding. I’m thinking something like “THIS TRASH CAN IS THE MOON, NOT THE FINGER POINTING TO IT” or just “CECI N’EST PAS UNE POUBELLE”.
The great work continues.