Garbage Collection

In this memory, I’m about nine years old. Every Thursday is the garbage collection day for my neighbourhood. My mother collects all the garbage in the house and if I’m downstairs, I take the bags to the nearest collection spot.

Every few blocks share a designated collection spot, and you’re not supposed to dispose your garbage in others’ spots. Some time in the morning, the collection truck comes to pick up garbage from each collection spot. On most days, they come in late morning, but sometimes, they arrive much earlier.

One morning, my mother is still collecting all the house garbage when the collection truck passes by our house with its distinct music.

“Sweetie!” My mother calls out as she dashes to the entrance with half-tied garbage bags. “Come quick! They’re here! You must take them out NOW!”

“Isn’t it too late?” I don’t like the idea of running to the collection spot only to realize that the truck is already gone. That’s too embarrassing.

“It’s not too late,” says my mother. “But if you miss the truck, run to the next collection spot, understood?”

“But Mom,” I protest as I drag myself to the entrance. “We aren’t allowed to use others’ spots.”

“It’s fine,” says my mother firmly, shutting down my further concerns. “Now, go quickly!”

With that, I grab all the garbage bags, put on sandals, and shoot outside. I flip flop all the way to our collection spot where two men are about to finish picking up all the garbage.

“Take these, too!” I pant and hold out my bags as they finish picking up the last one from the collection spot. The two men take bags from my hands without changing their expressions, then the truck leaves with its merry music.

“I made it!” I announce to my mother as soon as I get back home. “Barely!” I add.

But my mother seems to only hear the first part. She is relieved we didn’t have to miss this week’s garbage collection, and my frantic flip-flopping and embarrassing handover of our garbage go unmentioned.