Dear Neighbor I Offended this Saturday While Disposing of My Trash at the Communal Dumpster

When you and your wife/girlfriend/mistress/love slave started yelling at me for putting my plastic bag full of plastic bags into the mostly-empty paper bag that you had deposited at the steps of the mostly-full dumpster near our dwellings, I thought perhaps that you had recycling in it.

So I asked if I had mistakenly mixed my garbage with your recycling. But no, it appears that you were in fact offended by the promiscuous mingling of our household detritus.

I still think this is crazy, which is why I said things like “What’s the big deal? Trash is trash!”

I don’t really know what you started shouting back at me, because I was in fact carrying on a conversation with my mother via cell phone at the same time. Upon reflection, this is probably what really upset you: not my cavalier attitude toward the mingling of household garbage, but the fact that I never stopped to give you my undivided attention. Or maybe you were mad because you thought I expected you to throw my trash into the dumpster with your trash. Or maybe you have some kind of garbage fetish that requires you and your love slave to personally handle all trash before it goes in the dumpster. Like I said, I really wasn’t paying attention.

I’m not sure if you heard me say (and later — as your own voice rose in volume — shout) things like “I’m so sorry for having offended you, sir,” because you were going on about something or another. Like I said, I really wasn’t listening. I could tell you were angry, though, and apparently because of something I had done. In my humble opinion, you and your love slave are both wound a little too tight about how your trash is disposed of.

Do you not understand the concept of trash? Do you not know where trash goes? Have you never been to a dump or a landfill? Did you think the sanitation workers took each little bag of trash and gave it a decent burial, with maybe a headstone and a prayer? Do you think there is a trash embalming center somewhere? Or were you really just offended because I never bothered to put down my cell phone and treat you like a human being instead of an animated speed bump?

I know how annoying multitasking cell-phone users can be. So, for demeaning your inherent worth and dignity by shouting nice things I clearly didn’t mean and walking off before you could explain yourself, I do apologize. Perhaps we’ll meet again at the dumpster and I will have the opportunity to amend my behavior.

In the meantime I suggest you take a deep, cleansing breath, and try not to get too worked up about what happens to your garbage once you put it down in front of the dumpster. It’s only garbage, after all — one thing that we Americans have in abundance.



Tight-Drawn and Fragile

PL5 written on the wrapped-green house,
   half-built, half-lot,
down from the street from Boston’s last

“Please,” utters the spirit, tight-drawn and fragile
   as you motor from one encounter to the next.
January looms in the blue-and-white sky,
chills your fingers as you dig gloves from pockets

Unaccustomed to their new location,
all your possessions cry for mercy, comfort,
            time a gratuity
and your check so small,
it won’t cover the bills

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