The city didn’t come out to our remote locale to retrieve our refuse, and Mom and Dad never signed us up with that lady and her husband (or son?) who collected rural trash in that rickety old pickup with plywood sides and then hauled it off to the dump. (Whew! Faulkner would be proud of that sentence.)
Dad owned and managed his own business (with Mom’s invaluable help for about the first 15 years or so). He was in the habit of taking our home trash down to his office, about six or eight miles away (don’t worry, Dad, if this was somehow a shady practice, I’m sure the statute of limitations has run out by now). Whether it was the city or a private company picking it up is beyond me. One thing I know for sure from my upbringing is that, “it didn’t just get up and walk away.”
Sometimes, when we needed the trash taken from the house on a weekend, the duty would fall to Charles and me. It was about a 30-minute job to haul it down to Dad’s office and come back. I don’t want to cast blame in one direction, because I had lazy teenager syndrome just as bad as the next guy. But, Charles was the one who could drive, and once he said, “Okay, let’s go do this,” I was committed to whatever course he took.
Probably closer to the truth is that I was glad one of us thought of a way to turn a half hour chore into a five minute joyride.
We tossed the garbage bags into the old seafoam green Suburban (pretty sure that’s what Charles drove at the time) and headed out. Maybe a half mile up the road, right off the highway, sat a Dumpster behind a veterinary clinic. We stopped there and stealthily heaved the bags up and over, with nary a bang on the Dumpster’s metal sides.
Back at the house, we enjoyed a day that undoubtedly included consumption of mass quantities of re-heated Velveeta-and-Rotel dip — and 20 extra minutes to do it, thanks to our caper. We could dump our garbage in someone else’s receptacle and gorge ourselves on processed cheese product in the same afternoon. We were nothing if not refined.
The family room, where we spent a lot of our indoor time, had large windows that went from floor to ceiling. They provided a great view of, for example, a pickup truck stopping at the end of our driveway. Charles and I slowly stopped munching our Fritos as we watched a man emerge from the cab and pull several garbage bags from his truck bed. They looked a lot like the ones we had just dumped. He plopped them beside our driveway, then got back into his truck and drove back up the road.
Now, if you’ve never heard, “Alice’s Restaurant,” you really should give it a listen and imagine Charles and me as we sat there, obviously caught, running through plausible explanations for the events that had transpired. We couldn’t come up with anything. The man obviously knew who we were and would give Dad a full rundown.
Dad later heard from the vet that he had seen trash he didn’t recognize. Apparently he didn’t have to dig far to find a used envelope with Dad’s name and address on it, and summarily returned said trash to its rightful owner. I just hope that when first confronted about it, Dad said, “I admit I put that envelope in your garbage.”
The vet, obviously a former member of a CSI team somewhere, was even smarter than Guthrie’s Officer Obie. There was no way we could compete against brain power like that.
Obviously Dad’s reaction wasn’t too harsh, because I can’t remember what happened after he told us we were busted. Mostly I remember the laughter of retellings.
Over the years, we have revealed other deceptions, such as the Bessie crash cover-up, but I’m sure there are a few hiding in places even my brother and I can’t find them. If you read that Bessie link, then you might want to go to the page with the whole Bessie story, in chronological order.
Supplemental: If you’ve never heard “Alice’s Restaurant,” or forgot the words, read the lyrics here. They’re still funny and timely. Here’s part 1 of the song (audio only). I haven’t found part 2 yet, but this covers a LOT of it.