If you know me, you know I can sometimes be direct, really direct to the point of rudeness (sorry to those of you on the receiving end of this). Thankfully, I have my dear husband to act as my filter--last night he again proved to me that without him I might have 2 black eyes a good part of the time.
Let me first state something essential to this story: Boston is dirty. When I say dirty, I mean garbage is everywhere and where there is litter there are sure to be litterbugs. These aren’t the sort of people who look around to see if anyone will catch them being litterbugs. Instead, they are the watch-me-throw-this-and-I-dare-you-to-say-anything sort. Alex is the only person I’ve ever heard confront this problem, which makes me believe people just don’t care, or dont' think it’s their place to say anything.
We all know cities are dirtier then suburbs, but why? Is it that city life kills the clean gene? I just can’t understand it. I may be anal retentive, bordering on obsessive compulsive, but I believe people need to do their part to keep common spaces presentable. Every Monday I am reminded of just how little people care about this and what pigs they are.
Sunday night the garbage and recycling goes out onto the street. In our 5 unit apartment building, there seem to be at least 3 people living in each unit, with the exception of us. From my brief interactions in the hall, weekend noise levels, the glass and aluminum contents of recycling bins, and the fact that living in an apartment building with a constant collection of garbage in front causes little action, I am left to believe my neighbors can’t be older than 25.
Come Monday morning the collection and of garbage in front of our house ranges from the normal black garbage bags, to broken chairs and deteriorated paper bags of cat litter, complete with cat turds. All of this is arranged in a fashion that would make any garbage man mad, which is why that very garbage man selects only the garbage contained in bags or in a recycle bins to put in his truck. I know our trash arrangement angers him—last week, awakened by the rumbling engine, the crashing of glass, and the requisite beep- beep, I rushed to the window to watch him in action. What I saw makes me think garbage collection could be an anger management technique. Only about ¾ of any bin's contents actually make it to the truck and the force with which he hurdles the empty garbage bins onto the sidewalk, always leaving a sort of obstacle course for pedestrians, makes me fear him.
In his wake we are left with a street in true Boston form--trashy. Alex and I always go and pick up the garbage flying about and put it in one of the empty bins. I know we aren't the first people out the door in the morning which means our neighbors just step over everything like it's not their problem. They also fail to pick up their garbage left behind. On two occasions, last and this week, garbage from one entire household was not picked up (the same people who left the cat litter pile).
Last week, out to correct the situation, and knowing he was the more diplomatic of the two us, Alex created a very nice sign, complete with a smiley face and a cute play on words, asking people to please pick up their trash if it is not picked up my the trash guy. This went over well. The trash was picked up and our note was even embellished by a neighbor who put up an equally nice note with instructions about how to manage trash/recycling day. I was too quick to feel a sense of relief. It's a different week, same issue. This week’s trash was left out until last night when Alex finally picked it up off the street but only after I left a note and black garbage back taped on the entry door saying, “To the person whose garbage is still on the street, please accept this gift, a trash bag to put your junk in. Thanks, Christina Apt. 5."
Okay, I was mad and this was the nicest note I could come up with. I was reluctant to put it up so I called Alex to ask his diplomatic opinion on the matter but his cell phone was off. I thought about my note and thought “Hey, it bugged him too, and this note is kind of nice and I’m even offering a trash bag as a gift.’ So, I went for it. I tiptoed downstairs and taped it to the door and raced back up stairs with quickness. My need to tiptoe should have tipped me off—it was probably a bad idea. I then proceeded to have second thoughts--"Did I spell everything correctly? I better run down and check," which I did. Then fear--"Am I going to get my butt kicked someday because I signed my name? Or, if there is a fire and I don't make it out and the fire man happens to ask the person the note was directed to if there is anyone inside, would they say no and I’d burn to death?" You can see I have a vivid imagination, but of the worst kind.
I went to the window to check if anyone had accepted my gift, nope.
Finally Alex comes home. In his hand is a black bag and my note. I ask, “So you didn't like my note?” "It was a bit abrasive and there are probably better ways of getting what you want." Why is it that as soon as he points this out I can see so clearly? I of course try to brush it off with things like "Well, I'm mad and they should know better" or " I thought it was kind of nice and a little bit funny".
My lesson in this story and many in many others is always consult your better, much wiser, half before acting.