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Friday, October 27, 2000

I had a minor run-in with the garbage company today. Friday is pick-up day on my street, and this was the second week in a row they missed my house. Last week I was a bit cheesed, but not enough to do anything about it, since the can was only half full anyway. My house is that last one on the road, but I put the house number on my trashcan in bright reflective decals, so it's hard to miss.

By last night, when I wheeled the can out to the curb (or what passes for a curb on a rural road), I was wishing I'd made a stink about it last week, because there was no breathing space this time around. If they missed me again, I was going to have to do something I don't like to do. I'd have to pick up the phone and make someone else's job harder by complaining.

Yeah, I know, that's their job. And it's not as if I wanted to make impossible demands or ask for special favors. That's something the Boss would do. Has done. When we had the office in the basement of his Napa house, it was (naturally) part of my job to make sure the can got to the curb on the right morning and back in that night.

The house was near the end of a winding, dead-end road along the river. On a couple of occasions, some mix-up prevented the disposal company from getting out there. I had to call and whine until they promised to send a truck.

Once, he had more trash than the container would hold and put out a couple of extra bags, which the driver refused to take. I, in turn, refused to call and complain about a man who was just doing his job. I remembered reading a notice that came with the bill, saying that any large items or extra trash would not be picked up unless it was arranged in advance.

So he bullied someone else into calling the company. He never makes these distasteful calls himself. He's much too important, you know. Instead of calling, he'd rather spend an hour writing memos, trying to get someone who owes him a nickel to pay him a dime.

I think it took more than one call, and there was some compromise on how much extra he would be charged, but eventually the truck did come back and take the excess garbage. I think I hid in a storage room when I saw the truck driving up.

Anyway, that was a long time ago, and it shouldn't have been my problem. The situation here at the Fortress is definitely my problem, and when it happened again this week I had to take action.

The woman on the phone seemed distracted. Thinking back, I believe she was probably writing down my phone number and whatever other personal information her caller ID was providing.

It was like talking to me when I'm trying to watch a ballgame. I hear something like every other word. It takes me awhile, but I generally get around to filling in the blanks and generating some kind of response.

"Your driver has missed my house for the last two weeks."

"They didn't pick up your garbage?"

"No, not for two weeks."

"Do you have the new cans?"

"No, I don't have the new cans. The other houses on my street have them, but I don't."

"Why don't you have the new cans?"

"Well, I guess they never got delivered to me."

"So you don't have the new cans?"

I'm pretty sure that I got her to promise to send her driver back and to deliver the specially designed trash and yard waste containers that were promised in a mailer the company sent last month. They're supposed to be easier for the trucks to empty, if they're properly placed at curbside.

I can't see the end of the driveway from the house. After walking out to the road several times to check, I finally found my old containers emptied and tossed in a mud puddle. I guess the driver wasn't happy about having to come back and do his job.

But I'm pretty sure that's one of the bills I remembered to pay on time, so I don't mind reminding him that I'm here. Maybe next week he'll remember on his own.

Closure: I found the check register I was obsessing about yesterday. I had looked in the canceled check file and the paid bills file. I'd forgotten the drawer, right by my desk (I can open it from here), where I keep the unpaid bills. I thought I'd exhausted all the logical places, but it turned up in the most logical of all.

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