Trash Bin Anxiety

Today, my garage door blew its spring. Snapped clear in half. So that’s what that loud unidentifiable crash was this morning! I didn’t notice it until deciding to take the trash cans out to the curb. Pressing the garage door button on the wall, I could see the door struggling to open, pushing its way up just a tad, making a clicking noise, and then falling back down. The left side is crooked, its bottom not quite reaching the concrete beneath it. I’ve tried manually to help it along, but it won’t budge.

This is a problem for several reasons. First, the garage door company can’t come out to fix it for at least two days. Since my car is in the garage, I feel more sheltered-in-place than in 2020 during the pandemic lockdown. I can’t walk anywhere because of scorching heat here in Phoenix, day and night. And a bike ride is out of the question since my bike is holed up in the garage. The worst part about this is the trash cans can’t be emptied until next week after the garage door is fixed. 

I can’t help but smile, recalling what’s in that can and memories from the past week. Time spent with grandkids, pets, gardening, and cooking. Everything I treasure.

Yesterday, I decided to clean out the tortoise house which hadn’t been cleaned out since Spring. Zulu, my African spurred tortoise, reminded me of this when she started cleaning out her own space, pushing piles of poo out her door and onto the lawn. She weighs over a hundred pounds so you can imagine the size of her poo. It’s like cleaning up after a horse. Yet I can’t stand the thought of not having her, despite all the poo. I filled four trash bags full and had placed them into the large trash bin in the garage along with dirty grandkid diapers, grass clippings, and food discards from the past few days. So, every time I empty trash into the bin, I get a lovely whiff of all that deliciousness marinating inside. 

Never have I longed so desperately to take out the trash.

One afternoon a while back, I rolled my trash bin around to the backyard to collect grass trimmings before setting it on the curb for trash pick-up. I’d unlocked the back gate, and once safely inside, by habit, I latched the gate and secured the combination lock. I proceeded to clean up after mowing and then slumped into my Adirondack chair to admire the fruits of my labor. I tried relaxing but was agitated by a tiny bit of debris settling inside my right eye. With no success at rubbing it out, I was frustrated and popped out both contact lenses. Now I could clearly see the sun sinking low in the sky and gray clouds hovering above me. Time to call it a day. 

Remembering I had a cold beer waiting for me in the fridge, I got my butt up out of the chair, grabbed hold of the trash bin and headed to the gate when I realized it was locked. Since my disposable contacts were shriveling up somewhere in the freshly mowed lawn, I couldn’t see worth a damn. Opening the combination lock was impossible since I couldn’t make out any numbers. 

Well, I’ll just go through the back door of the house and grab my glasses. But it too was locked. So, I’m imprisoned in my own back yard, it’s growing darker by the minute, and I don’t have my phone. I stood on tiptoes, balancing on a bucket near the gate yelling like a lunatic for a neighbor to rescue me. Yet not a soul was around. In the end I managed to hoist my sixty-year-old, tired body up onto the concrete block fence and leap to freedom. I wish someone had witnessed that awesome escape. At last, I was able to go through the garage, into the house, grab my glasses, unlock the back gate, take out the trash, and call it a night. 

Author: Leslie J. Cox

Leslie Cox is a writer of creative non-fiction, focusing on personal essay and memoir. Her essay “My Favorite Chair” was a runner up in the WOW! Women on Writing Q1 2020 Creative Nonfiction Contest, and she published two essays in “Her Vase” in 2020. Her essay "Distracted" appeared in the Pure Slush anthology: "Love, Lifespan," and she has enjoyed contributing to guest blogs and book reviews. Prior to semi-retiring from health care administration in 2019, Leslie wrote and published trade articles and a guidebook for health care professionals for HCPro. When she’s not writing, Leslie tutors students K-12 in the craft of writing, and that fills her up!

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