What a Bag!

Did you know this blog is read by tens of people every day? It’s true. Except for Easter Sunday, where people were busy celebrating with family or waterskiing in BC and only three people read, but that’s okay. I still love you.

If you’re a regular reader, you probably remember my anguish over the neighbours leaving their garbage bags on my property. Those were dark days in my little neighbourhood. There were moments when I seriously thought about leaving a strongly-worded note written written in ALL capital letters that said something like, “Would you kindly stop leaving your trash on my property. Thank you. P.S. Please purchase some garbage cans.” I think that’s probably about as strong as I get. I’m a pacifist. All caps is about as aggressive as I get, and even that’s rare.

I hummed and hawed over how best to address the situation. Friends offered their advice and commiserated over the burdens of difficult neighbours. The suggestions were varied. One friend suggested having a calm, collected discussion with the people next door and solving the problem like respectful adults. Another suggested leaving a polite note in the mailbox. I seriously considered contacting the landlord who owns the little house next door to discuss this issue with her tenants. Maximum creativity points go to the suggestion that involved a trebuchet and a battle cry. For a fleeting moment, I loosely mapped out a plan that called for a homemade wooden horse, but the gate out back is too narrow to execute delivery of said equine weapon. Also, the price of lumber has escalated far beyond the realm of my budget.

Being a big chicken who avoids confrontation, I dreaded trying anything that could cause the situation to escalate. Even the thought of heading over there to knock on the door made me cringe.

Readers who wonder how I can deal with the rigours of a junior/senior high teaching position when I am so adverse to confrontation should know that I set very clear expectations for my classroom, and very few kids challenge me on them. Also, “work” me is a very different me than “home” me. I prefer to leave work me at work. Not to mention that dealing with a confrontation that another person chooses to start is very different than actually lighting the fuse myself.

Back to the garbage. We were talking about my neighbours and their bags of garbage, which frequently got torn over by magpies and other vermin, resulting in bits of ick and other unmentionable stuff strewn across my lawn. No. Just. No.

I decided that my first step should be to make my trash cans and their hutch seem as professional as possible. Maybe professional is not the right word, but I wanted to make the delegated area for my garbage as clear and cared-for looking as possible. I bought a second garbage can that matches my fancy pants Rubbermaid can with the tight-fitting lid. The old green lidless can has been banished to the garage. I’ll use it to collect garage debris or hold garden tools or something.

Two lovely, matching garbage cans nestled in their (admittedly rickety, but that’s okay) wooden hutch? Check.

The Electrician, bless him, came up with the second stage of the plan. He came over with a set of paint markers in snazzy colours. He also offered to find me some stencils so it would be easier to mark my address nicely on the cans and their lids, but I replied, “Stencils? I don’t need no stinking stencils!” See, I was so distraught about my garbage crisis that grammar went out the window.

I wrote my house number  in big red letters over the handle on each side of the black plastic lids. Each letter was about as tall as my index finger, which I figured was a good size for the cans. You know, proportion and all that. I filled in the letters with the red paint, and then outlined them with the white pen afterward. The end result was clear and unmistakable. I could have taken a photo of my craftiness, but then everyone out there in blog world would have my address, and out of all the people I who read this blog, I figure the odds of someone being a creeper or a weirdo or wanting nice new garbage cans are alarmingly high.

I am thrilled to report that there have been NO garbage bags left on my property this week. There have also been no fast food bags full of empty hamburger/french fry/onion ring trash, which appear to be the spawn of garbage bags. Last Monday, I pulled into my driveway just as the very large dude who lives next door brought his garbage out. He was standing there, on my lawn, and looking at my lovely labelled garbage cans in apparent confusion. It was then that I brought out my secret weapon: the teacher stare. Homeboy stood there, holding a big lumpy bag of garbage about as big as I am (only now does that seem unsettling) while I stared him down from the driver’s seat of my SUV. The muscles between my eyebrows cramped up. The smell of hot rubber filled the alley as my stink eye melted the bottoms of his sneakers.

And then, a spring miracle! The man next door carried his garbage to the other side of his driveway. My neighbours have not left garbage of any form on my property since I labelled my garbage cans with red paint. Victory is mine, and I didn’t have to be nasty, rude, or undertake any major construction projects to make it happen!

In other neighbourhood events, the people two doors down seem to be finding random bags of garbage left on their property. Maybe I should offer them the use of my paint pens.

copyright 2011:  http://bluespeckledpup.com

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