Behold the Neighborhood Trash Monitor

Yes, ’tis I who holds that title in our little enclave of townhomes here in Historic Roswell. Like a school hall monitor who is endowed with the responsibility based upon good behavior, I have proven my value when it comes to the management of trash collection. I feel honored to be the garbage crier, monitoring crazy pick-up schedules; and running after emptied trash cans that roll downhill and rest smack dab in the middle of the street. Fretting over packed cans that have been knocked over, spewing forth (come on, there’s no room for delicate language here!) contents none of us really want to see.

“Not delicate” describes this topic, but fess up, y’all. You’ve undoubtedly had the pleasure of these experiences. Haven’t you chased your trash can as it rolls down the driveway and into the street? Haven’t you sat on your can (both of them!) to smash down the contents so nothing will spill? Haven’t you stomped in a tantrum when garbage pick-up missed your can? Haven’t you tried everything to get your old recliner to fit into that thing?

How often have you done the “dumpster run” after a holiday or birthday, or when you miss the trash pick-up? Gentlemen, I believe this is a right of passage. Dads and husbands must clandestinely sneak to a dumpster where there might still be room after every other man has snuck over and secretly deposited his trash under the cover of night. You probably line up with every other dad in the area, giving each other a nod, as you throw in boxes, old furniture, and trash, when it’s your turn. Every American with a Y chromosome knows his job. I dare to guess that boys ride along, encouraged to accompany their grownups to apprentice for their own future duties.

These are downright All-American prerogatives.

Where do I fit into this narrative? No, not the dumpster run. I don’t have that Y “dumpster-some.” Here’s my story:

It all started last Thanksgiving. I live in the gold standard of neighborly neighborhoods. We enjoy chatting with each other in the street and cooing over neighborhood canines in our little dog park. We watch over each other’s homes on vacations and assure that the garbage goes out to the curb. There’s no fear of snooping, digging around, or raiding anyone’s can. I’m just sayin’.

Di, the Trash Monitor.

So, it’s Tuesday morning before the holiday. I’m having coffee and get a text from my neighbor.

“Di, everyone has their garbage cans out, and it looks like the truck has already been here!” Did we miss the memo?”

“What the heck,” I texted back. Our garbage day is Wednesday, and honestly nothing ever falls on a Wednesday, so garbage day has never changed, even with holidays. So we both had bulging containers in our garages, desperately needing to be emptied. Ewwwww. But how and what did our neighbors know?

“I’ll research this,” I texted back. Sure enough, Roswell garbage collection has a website with all kinds of information, including contact info. Who thought garbage cans could be so complicated? I dialed the number for the department, convinced that I’d get an answering system.

“Roswell Solid Waste Division.” A human! I immediately dove into my name and where I live and questioned, “I’m confused. Our normal collection day is Wednesday, but you collected it today instead. Even in a holiday week, you’ve never done that before.”

Him: “Well, ma’am, Thursday is Thanksgiving. We always move pick-up days based on holidays.”

Me: “But you’ve never done that for Wednesdays, not since I moved here nine years ago. How were we supposed to know that you’d do it this year?”

Him: “Ma’am, we always move collection days during a holiday week. Your Wednesday moved to Tuesday, and Thursday moves to Wednesday. Friday stays the same, Tuesday moves to Monday.” (OOOOkay then. “Who’s on first?” Anyone?)

Me: “Why didn’t you send out a written notice?”

Him: “It costs too much money.” (Oh.)

Me: “So, how was I supposed to know this?”

Him: “Ma’am, you need to follow us on Facebook.” (Say what?) “If you don’t want to do Facebook, you can follow us on Twitter.” (I have entered the Twilight Zone.)

Me: “Sir, I rarely use them. It never occurred to me to follow our garbage services that way!”

Him: “Ma’am, stop yelling at me.” (Oh, dear. Wasn’t me! Wasn’t me!)

Me: “I apologize, sir. Thank you for your time.”

Him: “Ma’am, wait! We expected to miss people, so we’re sending the trucks back out this evening. Put out the garbage.” (NOW he tells me?)

Folks, nobody is happier than I am that we can put a bunch of junk on a curb to be whisked away. Honestly, God Bless America. But never in my dreams did I think I’d have to follow our “Garbage/Sanitation/Solid Waste” information on Facebook.

I laughingly texted my neighbor and told him to put out his cans for pick-up later. “And, by the way,” I said, “You must ‘friend’ the garbage service on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter. Cross my heart and hope to die. I’m now officially the trash monitor.”

His response? “LOL!”

Then and there, I acquired a wealth of garbage collection information. I studied it, paragraph after paragraph. I mastered the lingo. I memorized the news. For example, new cans were coming out. They’d be delivered with the next pick-up. We must dispose of our old cans ourselves. Really? With what? My 2-seater sports car? Hmmm. I wondered if it would fit in the passenger seat with the top down for a dumpster or dump run. I was all over the “who’s on first” at Christmas and New Year’s.

It’s time for you to fire up Facebook, y’all. It will save you angst over a bloated can. I know these things. I’m the trash monitor. Questions, anyone? ❍

Di Chapman is an inspirational author and speaker, and a branding consultant. Di’s latest book is Rekindle Your Purpose: Break through your disappointments, discouragements, and detours to resurrect your purpose and live it! Contact Di at