An Evening of Trash

This was an odd day. Started late, as it often does, because I stay up late and sleep in. Had a wrestle with the ferrets–the fun kind–then the usual paperwork and running about. And then…

I was standing by the sink trying to make a small hole in a tube of lip goop that was not expelling and I thought “I need the little pokey thing on my pocket knife… which was in that pocket on my purse… with the broken zipper. That I just threw away the other day. With my passport in it!”

Needless to say a lot of very bad words issued from my mouth.

I ran out into the rain and to the dumpster and looked in–half full! Argh! When did it get emptied? Argh!

I ran to the office and the manager was actually in!

“Willy!” says I. “When does the trash get picked up?”

“The trash? You mean the big dumpster?”

“Yes! Yes, the dumpster. When does it get dumped? What day of the week does Waste Management come and haul away the garbage?!”

“Tuesday… but really early in the morning…”

“FUCK! Thanks! Really! Fuckfuckfuckshitfuck….”

I dash back to my boat.

One of my neighbors, carrying an umbrella, sees me and says, “Umm… you seem to have lost your hat and coat.” (I’m wearing nice trousers and a turtleneck and boots.)

“Yeah. I think I threw my passport away! Argh!”

“In the dumpster?”

“Argh! Yes! In the dumpster, but I can’t remember what day! Argh! I have to go dumpster diving, I need to change my clothes! Excuse me!”

I dart back to my boat and call my husband while simultaneously looking up the passport replacement procedure online and changing my clothes.

“Honey… when did you take out that big bag of trash? You know… the one with the old purse and stuff in it?”

“Umm… Earlier this week….”

“Was it Tuesday or Monday? ‘Cause it wasn’t yesterday….”

“Umm… I don’t know, but the can was pretty empty, so it must have been after the trash guys came. …Why?”

“I think I threw away my passport–it was in my purse.”

“In your pants…? What?”

“Never mind…. I think it might still be in the dumpster, if you threw it out on Tuesday which is when they take the trash.”

“The dumpster was pretty empty so I’m guessing taht’s the day!”

“OK, gotta go dumpster diving!”

I realize I’ve thrown out all my old, ragged clothes in a fit of New Year cleaning. They are in the bag with the purse…. Possibly in the dumpster.

I put on my good, but in need of laundering, jeans and a hoodie, pin my freshly-washed hair up and pull the hood over it and dash out to the dumpster.

It’s gotten dark. I dash back to the boat and get a large flashlight and go back to the dumpster. I climb in.

I start moving bags of garbage–and let me tell you this is some icky shit. And some of my neighbors aren’t observing the toxic waste rules, or the recycling rules. I am knee-deep in filth.

And broken wood.

And mahogany cabinetry pulled whole from someone’s boat and tossed into the dumpster sometime… Tuesday afternoon, I’d guess. I dig through trash. I dig through garbage. My neighbors come by and throw bags of garbage in on my head. I dig more. I move broken boards with nails in them. I move wet cardboard, paint cans, propane hoses, engine parts, unidentifiable filth and bags of household trash. I sink. I find 3 inches of slimy water at the bottom of the dumpster.

No sign of the big brown bag with teh friendly Fred Meyer logo….

Maybe… under the cabinet…?

Mahogany is heavy! Cabinets are even heavier. I cannot move the whole thing, but I move one part and get a look at the stuff under the other, but crouching down in the garbage and water and muck at the bottom of the dumpster, waving the beam of my now-waning flashlight at the flattened piles of trash…. Is that… a light brown bag…? Maybe…?

I can’t see it all and I can’t pull it out. But it’s a heavy duty bag. Like the one we threw in. And I dig my fingers into the plastic until it tears….

There’s a green bit of towel. I recognize it as the rag I threw away! It’s my bag! My bag with my purse in it. If I can just pull it out….

But the cabinet has the bag pinned and can’t move the cabinet in the uncertain footing of the darkened dumpster. I tear the bag as far up as I can. No purse, no black leather thing…. I reach blindly in…

and feel a smooth surface, then a strap… from my purse!

I grab the strap and pull firmly, slowly, easing it out from under the weight of the cabinet… until I have the purse in my hand!

“You’re mine! Mine! I got you!” I crow and scramble out of the dumpster.

I wipe my hands on my pants and carefully unzip the one zipped-closed pocket. And there is my pocket knife. And my passport. And a tiny plastic bag of Canadian money from my last trip. I put them carefully into the dry pocket of my hoodie and hang the now-empty husk of the purse–it was such a good purse I hate to see it go–on the handle of the dumpster’s side door and head for the nearest hose to wash the gunk off my boots and hands.

In the washroom, I examine the passport–it’s clean and dry as are the knife and the bag of money–about $20 Canadian. I wash up and head back to my boat.

After changing my clothes and washing again, I check my e-mail.

A note from the speaker I had lined up for Saturday’s MWA meeting: he’s got the flu. In spite of getting out of the dumpster alive and with my passport, I’m still humped.

Oh, boy… anybody want to sub in for Curt Colbert on Saturday?

But I’ll deal with that later. I have my passport back, and my knife. I happily pierce the lid of the lip goop and tuck the passport away. Just as my husband comes home.

I really couldn’t face cooking, not after crawling around in the remains of so many other people’s dinners. We went out for pizza.

About Kat Richardson

Writer, editor, eccentric pain in the tail, bestselling author of the Greywalker novels.
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6 Responses to An Evening of Trash

  1. Elaine says:

    I’ve had days like this but they did not involve dumpster diving as the thing I needed was long gone. I’m super impressed by your perseverance. (after all, passports are around $100 these days … unexpedited) You should put this scenario (or something like it) in a novel.

    Good luck with Saturday. What are the odds, eh?

  2. John P says:

    Once again, proof that early onset Alzheimer’s is not a pretty sight. :0

  3. LOL! you guys are wicked.

    The Passport office is so swamped, I’m not sure they could even have gotten an expedited replacement to me in time for my trip to England in May.

  4. Woodstock says:

    Perhaps I’ve got early AD as well, but what struck me about this story is the irritating tendency of people to respond to a VERY urgent question with another question:.“Willy!” says I. “When does the trash get picked up?”“The trash? You mean the big dumpster?”Then your neighbors.Then your husband.It just drives me nuts when it happens to me. One time when my daughter was small I could not locate her. {Turned out she was sitting in the back of the closet.} All I wanted was my husband to tell me when he had last seen her, or heard her. All I got were queries on why I was asking him these questions. I almost slugged him.

  5. John P says:


    That probably explains how I can so irritate my wife when I answer her questions with another question. Sometime, however, when the question comes out of the blue, it is necessary to clarify things before giving the (possibly) wrong answer.

  6. “Honey… Where’s my supersuit?”
    “Why do you need to know?”

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