Life's Salvation

By Don Doman

Several years ago I was able to see my salvation coming. I knew its shape. I knew its size. I even knew its color. The salvation for my hectic, cluttered life was a public utility supplied refuse container (garbage can) on wheels.

The wise leaders of the City of Destiny mechanized garbage removal. Standardized refuse containers that fit new garbage trucks were to be given out to each household within Tacoma.

Our neighborhood was one of the last to receive delivery. Waiting for salvation is hard work. I paced and fretted. Each week I stood by the side of the road with an extra garbage bag in hand and a wistful look in my eye.

The new refuse container was almost twice as large as the normal garbage can. I looked forward to simply and effortlessly putting our family garbage into the refuse container. I could hear the bags as they fell into the container. Due to the vastness of the container, an echo would reach my ears seconds after the bags hit bottom.

Each week my family produced more garbage than I could cram into a single garbage can. Invariably on garbage day, and sometimes even before garbage day, I had to put one of my size twelve LA Gearís on top of the weekly load and stomp the trash down so that the lid would fit. Even then, I would end up with an extra bag sitting next to the can. I lived in constant fear of garbage persons refusing my extra bag or billing me for excessive garbage.

Worst of all were the weeks when the garbage can wasnít put out for collection. This resulted in nerve damage and hearing loss for which ever child had the weekly garbage duty. Like people who survived the depression, we got by. With a little ingenuity, we got rid of our garbage.

Sometimes garbage bags went to work. Sometimes lunch boxes carried a few extra surprises. If the garbage truck was missed at birthday or Christmas times, we took advantage of the opportunity. Small packages were sent to their destinations in large boxes. . . very large boxes. Sometimes we got thank you notes from friends and relatives. One note said, ďThank you so much for the hat and gloves. We also enjoyed reading The Tacoma News Tribuneís November publications. Mayor Vialle really sounds like a pistol.Ē

Eventually, the kids left home. I thought this would reduce the amount of weekly garbage. I was wrong. The amount of garbage grew. It seemed as if my salvation was still to be found in a refuse container.

Finally, the new refuse container was delivered. It was a dull forest green. It had black hollow plastic wheels that rumbled when they rolled down the sidewalk. I took it for walks around the block. For the first month I washed and waxed it each Sunday. After that, it became a fixture at the corner of the house. Itís ignored -- pulled out and pushed back each week as needed.

It wasnít that the newness wore off, it was just that our garbage expanded to fill the new refuse container. Actually, it not only expanded to fill, but overfill the container. Nothing changed. Itís a rare week that the lid isnít cocked at an angle resembling a military salute supported by bags of extra garbage.

Iím a little older and wiser, now. Iíve learned that salvation isnít an over-sized refuse container, but Iím still optimistic. Maybe salvation is two over-sized refuse containers.



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