Tuesday is trash day on my street in Salem.
That means that I need to remember to take out the green compost container and the gray trash container on Monday night. And the blue recycling container every other week.
It is even a bit more complex than that. There are some additional baskets for glass and other objects. I know nothing about those baskets. After three containers, my recycling mood started channeling Mr. Burns from The Simpsons: “Yes, well, it does sound delightful! I can't wait to start pawing through my garbage like some starving raccoon!”
Our relationship with our garbage adds a bottom to cultures.
We Oregonians do not hide our rather neurotic holier (or, at least. greener) than thou attitude when it comes to recycling. A Freudian would undoubtedly diagnose the condition as anal retentive. Lots of neat little piles that eventually end up in a big hole in the ground.
My Mexican neighbors tend to live on the other extreme. Garbage collection can vary regionally far more than cuisines.
In Pátzcuaro, the garbage truck seems to arrive on some sort of astral schedule. (At least, I could never divine any regularity in the truck’s appearance.) When I filled a trash bag, I had to wait for the sound of the tell-tale cow bell -- and then dash like Jesse Owens to hand off the bag and a gratuity to the trash hauler.
Garbage in Melaque is a bit simpler. Whenever I have a full trash bag, I simply put it in the raised brazier in front of my gate. The truck will pick it up on one of its regular routes -- five days a week. Efficient and simple. No pretense of recycling.
As I watched the Salem garbage men arrive in their separate trucks this morning to empty out the color-coded containers and baskets, I started to think about whether I preferred the Melaque or the Salem version. And then realized it was a silly question.
Both systems work well within their own context.
And that may just be another hint about my own life.