Talking Trash

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Who knew taking out trash would become such a major production? It used to be we’d put our trash out on the curb Monday night, and it was gone Tuesday morning. Fridays were bulk night when we could throw away furniture, appliances, and the like. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

It’s different out here in suburbia. Here you have to pay for the privilege of having your trash carted away. It’s not as simple as putting your trash on the curb for the trash men either. The first step in being able to throw away household trash is to shop around for a carting company. Once this is done, it’s a matter of containers. You can’t just purchase a heavy-duty trashcan at the Home Depot. Mind you, you have to have one assigned to you by your chosen sanitation specialists.

“How many people are in your home?” the dispatcher asked.

“Three,” I answered, “but one is only six weeks old.”

“Three people? That would require the half dumpster-sized container,” she said, consulting her chart.

“We really don’t need a container quite that large, do you have one smaller?”

“Well, we do have the quarter dumpster for families of two or less, but you have a family of three.”

“Can’t I get the smaller container anyway?”


After that, my husband became a man on a mission. Every Monday night, before the trash was put out front for collecting, he would make sure the container was filled almost to overflowing. The old carpeting we ripped out when we moved in was cut down and put into the bin. The defective toilet was broken into several pieces and placed in the bin. Our property was patrolled for sticks and other debris. In fact, it got to the point where my husband was so intent on filling our ginourmous trash receptacle, that there was no room for the household garbage by the time he was done. It didn’t matter. If we had to pay for trash pickup, and this included the cost of emptying a container that was too big for our needs, that container was going to be filled every Monday night, even if we had to start chopping up the furniture to do so.

Our garbage worries got worse as we realized we had many “bulk” items that needed to be disposed of. There was the broken-down refrigerator the previous owners of our house so kindly left in the garage, a water tank that needed to be brought up from the basement, and bundles of old carpeting that was starting to accumulate an odor. Once again, I called the carting company.

“It will cost $35 to dispose of the refrigerator, plus whatever you pay your expert,” the dispatcher informed me.

“My expert?” An expert in refrigerator disposal? This was a new one on me.

“Someone to certify the fridge is freon free.”

“It has to be freon free?” Wow, and here I thought I was vigilant because we removed the doors.

“Yes, and you have to have the doors removed. What’s your next item?”

“A water tank,” I responded.

“A hot water tank is $25 to cart away.”

“No, it’s not a hot water tank, but a water tank.” I didn’t want to pay extra for hot water.

“I don’t have a plain water tank on my list, are you sure it’s not a hot water tank?”

“My husband is adamant it’s not a hot water tank.”

“Well, if it’s the same shape and size it’ll be $25, next item?”

“About seven or eight bundles of carpeting and padding, each bundle is about 4 feet long by 2 feet wide.” I could feel a headache coming on.

“What size were the rooms?”

“The rooms?”

“Yes, we charge by the room. Tell me the size of the room that was carpeted, and I’ll tell you how much we charge.”

“That doesn’t pertain to us,” I told her. “We’ve thrown out bits and pieces of the carpeting throughout the year. It came from several rooms, but there’s not much carpeting left.”

“We don’t charge by the bits and pieces, Ma’am,” she said. “We charge by the room.”

“But that wouldn’t make sense in our case.”

“Well, that’s the only way I know how to do it.”

“Can I speak to someone a little more knowledgeable then?”

I heard the distinct sound of teeth sucking before I was put on hold for about three hours.

“She wants to know how big the room is.”


There’s no way we’re going to “pay by the room” for bundles of carpeting that may or may not add up to being the size of a room and a half. It’s okay though because we have the quarter-dumpster-sized container and lots of relatives who have free trash pickup.

How long do you think it would take to dismantle a refrigerator?


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