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 the driveway then pounces on our trash container.
The poor little guy shrieks as the cloud thrashes it about and moments later his battered remains spin 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 stopped by our house to pick up the trash. He never hurried, instead he leaned against his old Ford truck as it dozed in our driveway and rambled on about neighborhood gossip. 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 he was unworthy of our garbage. Unbeknownst to us, Otis was a trash poacher, a man who brazenly hauled garbage across the county line to an incinerator a few miles away
In Almost Iowa, we do not take things like this lightly because trash is a serious business. Other than farming, it’s about the only business we have.
What’s worse we were told – is because of poachers like Otis, our county incinerator is forced to eek out a marginal existence on the meager pickings of half the county.
Our incinerator is located at the opposite end of the county because the county board intended to poach the trash of a large city immediately across the border – but when their board caught wind of it, they built their own. Now our poor little dear goes hungry.
So to feed our burner, the county is chasing off poachers like Otis and has 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 could only make sense to a bureaucrat.
Because the economics of trash hauling have been totally screwed up, 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 cart teeters in the wind at the end of our driveway. It desperately clutches its 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.