Wednesday, March 16, 2016

down and out in garbageville

This is a photograph of my garbage can.

Well, it is a photograph of the place my garbage can was supposed to be the other morning. It wasn't.

Last June I discussed the garbage situation in my neighborhood (taking out the trash). All of my neighbors dump their garbage into small plastic store bags and then drop them in vegetable crates or empty paint buckets on the street corner.

"All," that is, except me. When I moved into the house in September 2014, I purchased a heavy garbage can. I would put it out the evening of the days Dora comes to clean the house. Those are our personal garbage day. The can is usually emptied by the time Barco and I get up the next morning.

Not any more. Barco has one duty -- to inform anyone passing by that a ferocious dog is on patrol. (Never mind that his bark sounds as if a ferocious rabbit lives behind my wooden portals.)

A couple nights ago, Barco was doing his duty. But it was a constant bark that I ignored out of annoyance. I should have listened. Someone stole my very heavy garbage can filled with garbage. (At least, they did not dump the garbage -- that is the usual modus videndi.)

I have now joined my neighbors in dumping my trash on the street corner -- where it will be strewn around the streets during the night by the neighborhood dogs. Barco would join them if I would only let him out on his own.

Last night I had dinner with a friend from Seattle. She and I tried to work out why such inconsequential items are stolen with such regularity. She calls it "pilfering" -- probably a euphemism for a rather ugly moral failing. I tended toward "looting," but that sounds far too much like the widows in Zorba the Greek. And "pillaging" drew a completely different word picture.

This type of thing happens all over the world, including bizarre Salem and even weirder Portland. Theft seems to be an inherent and universal human failing.

But it is pervasive here. I have Mexican friends who regularly talk about their friends stealing items (usually small things) from their houses. It may be why Mexicans are reluctant to invite guests into their homes. And I know almost no expatriate who has not been on the short end of a ten-finger discount encounter.

I really have no answer for it -- other than to be a bit more wise about what I leave around. I made the mistake of leaving my Garmin GPS in my Escape when I took it into the Ford dealer. It disappeared while there.

As for the garbage situation, nothing has improved. Now, I am part of the problem.

Someone suggested in a comment last June that I should try to convince my neighbors to install garbage baskets above the reach of the neighborhood dogs. I may just have one installed to see if I can interest anyone else.

It will be a start. And it will be rather difficult for it to disappear in the dead of the night. Whether Barco is doing his duty or not.

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