During the years we owned a home in Florida, we used to comment on how fortunate we were to live in a retirement community where so many services were close at hand. It truly was remarkable.
We benefited from facilities and utilities that we could have taken for granted. We had running water, electric power, telephone and cable service, and internet availability. We were close to medical and dental services, supermarkets and convenience stores, a volunteer emergency corps, and a fire department.
We had ready access to libraries, recreational facilities, and churches. We were served by a thriving post office, a conscientious sheriff’s department, and many other organizations too numerous to mention.
We lived near five golf courses, all of which we could drive to in our own golf cart.
We were, indeed, very fortunate.
However—there’s always a ‘however’ in these cases—there was one public service that caused me a great deal of difficulty. It probably wasn’t their fault; in fact, it likely wasn’t anybody’s fault. But it was one of those little vexations of life that seemed, at first, to be beyond fixing.
I’m speaking of the problems I had with my garbage. The pickup never worked for me. It used to be terrific to drop the plastic bags at the end of my driveway every Friday morning and forget about them. A short time later, a big truck would crawl slowly and noisily down the street, swallowing the assorted bags that were tossed into its churning maw. And the whole thing would be over for another week.
But then things changed, and I began to have a lot of trouble. It started when the pickup service was moved to an earlier time of day for my street. That truck began to show up before I woke up!
To solve that issue, I hit upon the idea of putting the bags out the night before. That, I figured, would solve my dilemma with the early hour. To my chagrin, it was just the beginning of a whole host of problems.
Whenever I put the garbage out the night before pickup, the scavengers got into it. Four-legged critters, like coons and possum; two-legged critters, such as crows and seagulls. When I would saunter to the street the next morning, after the truck had been and gone, I’d find remnants of the week’s malodorous garbage strewn across my grass.
I tried all manner of schemes to put a stop to this. It was amazing how ingenious, and devious, an old guy like me could become when I had to stoop over to scoop up garbage that I had already packed up for pickup!
In order to foil the two-legged critters, I began to wait until just before my bedtime to put out the garbage, after they were safely in their nests. To prevent the four-legged critters from continuing their raids, I scattered pellets, sprayed foam, and sprinkled red pepper around the bags—but all to no avail.
Once, to my undying shame, and well after dark, I even resorted to putting my garbage bags across the street, on my neighbour’s driveway. The next morning, there was half the load, spread across his grass.
And it didn’t really change anything, anyway, because when I went over to clean it up, I encountered him in the middle of the street. He was on his way to pick up the spillage from the bags he had left on my driveway! The bounder.
After a bothersome few months, I reached the stage where I realized I wasn’t putting out garbage; rather, I was making an offering to the critters from hell!
But, wonder of wonders, I eventually solved the riddle. Looking back on it, I can’t believe it took me so long to come up with such a creative solution. It certainly would have relieved me of a bunch of worry.
It finally dawned on me that on every warm, Florida Friday morning, garage sales and yard sales were endemic to our community—every neighbourhood, every street. And hundreds of people—rich, poor, young, old, women, men—prowled the area in their vans and station wagons.
So, from that point on, I would clamber out of bed every Friday at a reasonable hour, tie off my garbage bags with pretty, colorful ribbons, and drop them at the end of my driveway, with a big sign on them: FREE.
The bags were gone before I could finish my first cup of coffee!