Regular Life

Regular Life

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on. – Robert Frost

Getting Caught or Not (Part Two)

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.

9 Responses to Getting Caught or Not (Part Two)

  1. Foiled. I remember that one well. I just remember dad being embarrassed and genuinely let down that we would resort to something that deviant. You probably remember it better than me, because I don’t recall actually seing the garbage bags being dropped off. I have a different recollection. I thought we were wanting to go somewhere else, and we were in a hurry. Naturally, we found what seemed a viable alternative to a 30 minute round trip. My memory of it was that we wanted to go somewhere, and that was going to shoot a hole in our plans. So, we saw that dumpster, dropped off the garbage, and then left for something more interesting. Then when we got home, the garbage was there on the porch patiently awaiting our return. Then I thought we somehow decided that if we just took them to the office THEN, surely we’d still get away with it…only to have dad come home that evening to give us a lecture about how when he asks us to do something, it’s for a reason. Deservedly so, I might add.

    I recall him saying, “Well, what did you think was going to happen? What would you do if people started putting their garbage at our house for us to take care of it?”

    Hmmm, well, since you put it like that. :-)

    I also remember dad getting a kick out of it later saying, “Yep, that was a real caper. You got away with it for all of about 5 minutes the best I can figure.”

    Which is probably more time than it took to get busted on many more of our antics I’m sure.

    When it comes to getting busted by dad, I can’t think of anything more compelling than when I got caught skipping school. Talk about the planets aligning….that was a good one. It still reverberates as one of my favorite all-time stories, and includes this now-famous verbal exchange.

    After realizing we were busted by the school, we decided that we might be better off by going straight to our parents and being honest about what happened. I went into his office with my fellow perpetrator, did my best I. B. Blunt impression, and said…

    “Dad….we skipped school today.”

    And with a wry smile and an especially sinister giggle, he replied…

    “No S___t Sherlock. I knew that by 8:15 a.m.”

  2. Gotta love “Alice’s Restaurant”…… one of my all time favorite songs… *S*

    That was too funny Mark… loved it!

  3. Charles – It’s interesting how much differently we remember events.

    Oh well, it’s the manner we were caught that matters most.

    Good times.

    Dave – I didn’t mention this, but it was our dad who introduced me to that song, from his LP.

  4. I’m listening to the song clip as I type this. I’ve never heard it before, so the listening is making your accompanying story make that much more sense. Not that the song itself makes a whole heap of sense, but that’s part of the appeal. I like the ‘implements of destruction’ bit.


    Almost makes a guy wish that I’d had the opportunity to grow up a time in the country where things like capers would fill the lazy days and I’d end up being thwarted by dentists who moonlight as crime scene investigators.

  5. We too were country folk…but perhaps a bit more country. We just burned all our trash in big oild drums out back…just a stone’s throw from the cess pool back behind the chicken coup. You fancy folks with in-city dumpsters a mere 15-minutes away ;)

    I remember the first time I heard Alice’s Restaurant. Thanksgiving day, I was probbaly 13 or so. We were in Kansas City, on our way to meet my paternal family for the big meal and the song came on the oldies station (101 the Fox). We arrived at the family get together about the time Alro started talking about the draft and I asked Dad if I could stay in the car and finish it. I just remember sitting by myself in the car, laughing and then joining back up with my Dad to discuss the anti-war movement in the 60s. The song has been a favorite of mine ever since…as you may have guessed by my dog’s name.

    Mmmm, Rotel dip.

  6. OK, what the heck is Rotel dip?!

  7. Simon – You wouldn’t be interested…it has neither chocolate chips nor peanut butter.

    Rotel, in it’s basic form, is just diced and canned tomatoes and green chillies. It’s meant to be use din a vareity of recipes. The simplist of all these recipies is to simply mix it in with melted Velveeta cheese for a ncie dip. s’nice.

  8. Loved these stories. You have inspired me to tell one of my own.

    Let’s just say you two were much nicer kids than my older brother and I were back in the day.

  9. Simon – Glad to have introduced you to it. It deserves a listen while not reading my ramblings.

    MG – Oh, no, Dad didn’t have a Dumpster. Just silver trash cans with bent lids.

    If the three of us ever meet (it’s going to happen), I know one thing on the menu — Redneck Queso! That’s my new name for Rotel dip.

    BK – I have no doubt you were much more of a hellion than I ever was. Can’t wait to read your recollections.


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