Every Wednesday evening, shortly before twilight, a cloud of dust churns down our road. As it approaches our yard, it whirls to a stop, sniffs around at the end of our driveway then pounces on our trash container.
The poor little guy shrieks in panic as the cloud thrashes it about. Moments later the battered remains of the container spins into our yard as the cloud thunders off down the road on its ravenous quest for more garbage.
Things used to be far more sedate.
Every Thursday morning, a guy named Otis Svengold used to stop by our house to pick up the trash. Otis never hurried. As his old Ford truck dozed in our driveway, he would ramble on about neighborhood gossip or brag about his grandson who played on the local football team. Otis knew everything about everybody and everybody knew everything about Otis – or so it seemed.
A couple of months ago, the county mailed us a shocking expose on Otis. We were informed that the man was unworthy of our garbage. It turned out that Otis is a trash poacher. He has been brazenly hauling our garbage across the county line to an incinerator a few miles away
In Almost Iowa, trash is a serious business because other than farming, it’s about the only other business we have.
What’s worse we were told, because of poachers like Otis, our county incinerator has been has been forced to eek out a marginal existence on the meager pickings of the eastern half of the county.
It was built way over there because our board intended to poach the trash of a large city immediately across the eastern border – but when their county caught wind of it, they built their own. Now our poor little dear goes hungry.
So to feed our burner, the county has chased off people like Otis and contracted a vast fleet of trucks to transport trash from our area to the incinerator forty miles away. It is the sort of logic that only make sense to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the people who mandated all this mess.
Because the incinerator totally screws up the economics of trash hauling, the trucks must make as many stops as possible – which means that each customer’s garbage allotment is strictly rationed.
So every Wednesday evening at dusk, a tiny top-heavy little cart teeters in the wind at the end of our driveway, clutching the meager offerings of a half bag of garbage as a murderous cloud of dust ominously tracks its way across the prairie.
After the cloud thunders away, I take the rest of the refuse out to the curb and leave it there for Otis, who comes softly and stealthily in the night.