It was the messed of times, and it was nearly the worst of times.

It was certainly the stinkiest of times.

I don’t write a lot about garbage, though it’s likely some readers think my posts are garbage, but today I had an experience with trash that could have ended very badly, if not with serious bodily injury then at least with a loss of treasured and valuable personal property.  It was an experience that begged to be shared.

Before getting into garbage, literally, a note about Amazon.  Not a big fan, but out of financial necessity, I sell my Roleo Massager there.  And elsewhere, but nothing online comes as close for sales volume.  On Amazon, there is a hierarchy, in this order of importance:  1. Amazon/Bezos; 2. You, the consumer; 3. Sellers; 4. Unauthorized sellers; 5. Brand owners; 6. Manufacturers-distributors. If there’s a way to screw us, they do us.

We’re #6!…. is a sports chant you hear, never.

I try to support local and family-owned businesses whenever possible.  Love our local hardware, grocers, bakeries and restaurants.  But a lot of items I’d have to purchase from some other giant like Target or, God forbid, Walmart, I just go ahead and order on Amazon, because it’s the same price or less and it’s delivered to my door, saving time and gas money.  I apologize in advance if you’re offended by this practice, and you know who you are 🙂

I ordered a water bottle and glass screen protectors for my phone (3 for 8 bucks – remember when they would try to get you to pay 20 or more for one at the mall?).  Well, this morning, days later, I wondered where it was, so I went on my account and, under “orders,” it said that it had been delivered this past Saturday (today is Wednesday).  There was a picture of the boxes at my door.  Incontrovertible evidence of delivery.  The screen protectors were packed in the same box as the water bottle.  I had the water bottle.

We’ve all seen ’em.

So, I looked around my desk, the kitchen, anywhere I might have absentmindedly stowed a box of screen protectors whilst in the middle of something unimportant.  Nothing.  Then, I smacked my forehead (which grows taller daily): maybe it was still in the Amazon box, which I had put in the recycling.

BACKGROUND: we live in a nice little townhome community with birds and koi and squirrels and hummingbirds and trash and recycling bins in various locations.  For a while, there was a guy on the HOA board who got his kicks taking pictures of people breaking rules by, for instance, running a business from their garage, or hanging things over their patios the wrong way (a rule I brilliantly skirted by using clamps to hang our Edison bulb strings rather than drilling into the exterior walls), or putting boxes in the recycling without breaking them down first.  I once got an email from the HOA with a photo of an Amazon box with my name on the label, and a warning of monetary retribution.

Did I then, sensibly, begin breaking down boxes so as not to break the rules?  Well, sometimes, but usually I just take the label with my name off the box before tossing in the blue container, often employing my Kareem Abdul Jabbar-inspired sky hook form to do so.

I went out to the recycling bins, praying they hadn’t been emptied since Saturday.  That’s a lot of days, but to my relief they were still full.  I started pulling out boxes from the top layer of the first bin which had no lid on it, figuring that, being a lazy S.O.B., I probably just tossed the box over the gate rather than open the gate and lift the lid on the other dumpster.  There were plenty of Amazon boxes but none were mine.  That said, that was merely the surface layer and mine had been in there for 5 days.  I had a choice to make.

So, I did what any reasonable guy would in that situation: I used the cutout where the forklift fork fits (say that 3 times fast) to step up and over the side.  Yes, I climbed into the container.  I had never done this before.  That’s right, for an 8-dollar item, I entered my entire being into a disgusting, rarely cleaned, almost full recycling dumpster.  Probably channeling my Dad, who grew up in the Depression.  Thank the Lord it wasn’t the trash bin, because I can’t even imagine.  Dumpster divers are the bravest people on Earth.

I started tossing stuff onto the concrete (I put it all back, just FYI), looking for my Amazon box, to no avail.  What I did find simply confirmed my belief that the human race is screwed, myself included.  For example, most people don’t break down their boxes, either, and used the same ruse I did: just peeling off the label.  And now we don’t even need to do that because the ass on the HOA who was busting us moved.

Recycling is simple.  Clean paper, aluminum or glass bottles, dry cardboard (like boxes, etc.).  “Clean” is the key.  I don’t even know what actually gets recycled but from the little I’ve read, it seems that it’s not much.  So, if it ain’t clean, just trash it.

Here is what I found in the RECYCLING BIN:

  • Cooked pasta. In large clumps.  I hate that person.
  • Gel-based packing materials
  • A recyclable takeout container… with leftover chicken wings, etc., inside.
  • A bag full of wet paper. I don’t think it was diapers.
  • And speaking of diapers, a Skippy jar almost half full of peanut butter

This was a partial list only.

But what I didn’t find in the first recycling bin was my screen protectors.  I was ready to give up.  I mean, I’m almost on Medicare and digging through a dumpster on principle to retrieve an 8 dollar item I can order now and get tomorrow? I used to think I wasn’t stupid. The top lip of the dumpster is 5 feet off the ground and the whole thing is on wheels! That’s dangerous!

Getting out was even more precarious, and the landscapers who came buy to dump some trash got a good laugh seeing me in the dumpster, especially the one little fellow who never smiles at me.  Thus embarrassed, I put the stuff back in that I had thrown on the floor and headed back home.  That was it.  It was gross and for what?  8 bucks?  Screw it!

Then, on the way back, I looked down and realized my wedding ring was no longer on my finger.

BACKGROUND: in the winter, my fingers get smaller. I think it’s barometric. Kiki thinks it’s because I’m too skinny.  She also thinks I’m handsome, so let’s leave it at that.  But there have been a couple of times where the ring just flew or fell off my finger.  One time I couldn’t find it for a day or so and had almost given up when it turned out that it had slipped off while reaching into my backpack for something.  There it was, sitting in the lint.  It was a relief to find it, to say the least, and I’ve been more careful about it since.

TO RECAP: I lost my valuable, emotionally significant wedding band searching for an 8-dollar pack of screen protectors.

Well, that was that.  I had to find that ring.  I ran inside.  Kiki was on a meeting call.  I ran into the room and nervously told her I had to go outside for a bit.  I didn’t want to freak her out, so I didn’t say why. She later told me she knew something was up.  Even the grand-dogs, visiting for a few days, knew something was amiss.

I jogged back to the dumpsters after changing into my old beach sneakers and climbed back in.  I started frantically flinging things from one dumpster to the other, looking through bags and boxes in case the ring fell into one (which is how I know what people put in there).  Nothing.  I had almost emptied the whole thing, scraping through the bottom layer, fooled by the shiny rings on pull-tops from dog and cat food cans… and heard a “ping!”

There it was!  Vast relief.  My panic was over.

I had told God in my panic (I’m a panic-and-doom-pray-er) that if I found the ring, I wouldn’t care about the screen protectors.  But I still needed to put some of the stuff back into the first dumpster because the second one was overflowing and the lid wouldn’t close.  This required a climb into the second dumpster.  I put back most of what I had moved, and then saw an Amazon box.  Not mine, but then another… and finally, there it was, addressed to me.  But alas, it was empty.

So, I did what any other guy would do in this situation: I continued completely emptying the second dumpster into the first to find the screen protectors.

Maybe you see where this is going.  Finding the ring (which I put in my pocket before climbing into the second dumpster) was incredible, but it was an incomplete mission.  So, like any guy in this situation, I now emptied the second dumpster into the first, had it almost completely empty, and there, in the corner, standing on end as if sitting on a store shelf, was my box of glass screen protectors.  The box was perfectly clean and undented.  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Here’s the protectors, and the ring. Phew.

So, though I would never wish that kind of angst on anyone, the outcome was completely positive.  Worth it?  Nah.  I emptied two pretty disgusting dumpsters into each other.  But at least I got a story out of it.  That being said, however, if I ever accidently drop something into a dumpster, I’ve decided that it had better be worth 50 dollars or more or I’m not going in there.  I know, that’s privilege.

As for dumpster diving, I’ve reflected on it, and can honestly say after the panic and the relief of surviving it:

It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.

Peace and Love, Peace and Love.  Thanks for reading.

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