Friday, June 16, 2006


I wasn’t even wearing gloves as I sorted through a mound of garbage perched on a literal mountain of waste at the landfill. My department had made a mistake and put some glass that was needed for a $20 million order on top of a garbage can and when the collector went around he assumed it was thrown out. It went to the company’s compactor, then to the landfill and I soon followed. The drivers of the huge garbage bulldozers stood around and watched me in my shirt and tie, knee deep in the refuse searching.

I placed the garbage at the curb this morning and thought back to that experience. I saw the garbage men coming around the corner picking up the bags, dumping the cans, and driving on. I stood at the curb in my slippers and shorts and watched. For a few cents a day I have two men in a big truck drive by my house, twice a week, and pick up the stuff I don’t want anymore – my garbage. They take it, throw it in their truck, and drive it to a landfill. People at the landfill, push it around, compact it, and finally cover it and it turns into a grass covered park, or a ski hill, or baseball diamond, or whatever. We recycle cans, bottles, papers and glass and turn it into roads, benches, and garbage cans and even back to cans, bottles, paper and glass. Amazing.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could do that with the other garbage in our lives? Wrap up that stinky abuse from childhood in a used newspaper put it in plastic and leave it by the road for pickup. Take that broken marriage that still haunts you and drop it into the refuse can and wheel it away to the curb. Take that anger you have had wrapped around you like an overcoat and don’t even fold it as you crush it into the trash. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Maybe that’s what a good counselor can help you do or maybe a good friend. Maybe, just maybe, you CAN remove the garbage from your life. But first of all you have to be ready to get rid of it, no one can help you dump your garbage when you cling to it like a security blanket.

Oh, and yes, I did find that million-dollar glass in the landfill. The workers at the dump just shook their heads as I triumphantly raised it above my head and walked through the rest of the garbage to my car: smelly and smiling.

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