My Trash Relationship

I think the day I turned 24, my life settings went from “normal” mode to “hard” mode. Everything suddenly became difficult (on-time blogging included). I’m not referring to the personal issues in my life so much as the mundane. The little tasks I had regularly been completing for years became impossible to complete correctly. So I looked deeply inward and asked myself,

“Self, what the hell?”

Some highlights include me running through rich neighbor’s backyards after my runaway dog, not being able to get my Flex disc out after trying it for the first time, and my car battery dying before I could leave to play DND as my Dwarven character, Cardamom Behlgrun (aka Cardi B). February was the longest year of my life, and I won’t bore you with every little thing that went wrong. What I want to share with you today is a journey that forever changed me. Let me tell you about my escapade with Republic Services.

Yeah, my trash company. That journey ended, and I am *incredibly* thankful. I want to remember this journey for future purposes, and I hope my misfortune makes you laugh because it is absolutely ridiculous.

Names and personal information are edited for confidentiality and my complete lack of memory of anyone’s name over the phone.

This story begins over eight weeks ago (yes, EIGHT) when I was a naive, 23-year-old woman with a passion for life. With my two roommates, I had moved into a house, complete with a large living room, private yard, and plenty of parking. It was a dream.

Considering I am paranoid and have trust issues, I read the lease in its entirety. Our landlady requested that we provide her our account numbers for each of our utilities and services, including trash. Via email, I had informed her that I had yet to get ahold of Republic Services because of their hours of operation and my work schedule. Honestly, she didn’t care at all and just told me the cans we need are in the garage.

Assuming she had trash services in her name while the unit was vacant, I finally got ahold of Republic. Like the submissive fool I am, I followed the instructions of the automated menu, choosing the “Transfer Services” option. “Hello, thank you for calling Republic Services. My name is Theresa. How may I help you?”

“Hi, I just moved and need to have services transferred so that the bill is in my name.” I used the secretary voice I learned from my mother.

“Of course, I’ll just need some information from you. Could I get your name and address?”

“K.G. Goer and the address is 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney.”

“Excellent. It looks like that address is scheduled for services on Wednesday mornings. I’ll make sure they get you on their pick-up schedule, and they should drop off your cans then.”

“Oh, um, I actually already have cans left from my landlady. Could we just keep them and transfer the bill to my name?”

“That’s weird, normally they should have returned those… um, okay, yeah, we can do that. I’ll put the cans in your name. So now you have a 60-gallon trash container, 60-gallon recycling, and 60-gallon yard waste.”

“Uh… I think we have a smaller yard waste can. Also a blue bin for glass.”

“The 35-gallon? We don’t offer a 35-gallon yard waste option.”

“Huh. Well, we probably won’t even use it. Is there any way we can downsize our trash can?”

“Unfortunately we only offer the 60-gallon, then the recycling and yard waste cans are free. Also, you will be receiving an email saying you have ordered your new cans, but don’t worry, I’ll put a note on there to not give you any since you already have them.”

“Dang. Well, okay. Thanks.” I hung up the phone, grumbling something to myself about how I don’t want to pay for a bigger can.

This story should end here, but this was the beginning of utter chaos. Theresa, bless her garbage soul, began a chain of events that would soon spiral. On our first trash night, we put out our cans.

When I awoke the next morning, we had a whole new set of cans, stationed alongside the ones left out from the night before. You might be thinking, “Oh, it happens. Just give them a call and they’ll pick them up the next week. Not a big deal.”

That’s what I thought eight weeks ago, in my youth, in my innocence.

With my work and life schedule, I wasn’t able to contact Republic again until the following Monday on my lunch break. This was all a silly misunderstanding that should be cleared up shortly.

Closing the door behind me in the office, I unwrapped my protein bar while the automated menu blared in my ear. Surely this won’t take more than a few minutes. “Hello, thank you for calling Republic Services. This is Sandra speaking. What can I do for you?”

“Hey there, it seems we had a mix up with our trash cans. I was trying to have services transferred into my name with the trash cans my landlady already had, and, well, it seems we got some extras.”

“Oh, it looks like we did send you a whole new set of cans!” She laughed. “We just really wanted to make sure you had somewhere to put your trash, hahahah.”

I laughed with her. “Haha yeah, and I mean I appreciate it and everything, but we don’t need this many cans.”

“I’m sorry, this is just so funny to me. Let me schedule you for a pick-up. So it’s a different truck that will come by, but it will be on the same day. Go ahead and put all of your cans out, including the ones for return, and they will figure out which ones need to go. It is a little close to pick-up day, so there’s a chance they won’t get this memo before Wednesday. If they don’t, just set them out the following week and they will for sure get them then.”

Sandra was a gem, and she had really restored my faith in humanity that Monday. “Wonderful, thanks so much! I also had a question. I was told you only offered 60-gallon trash cans, but I noticed your rates published online include a smaller one. Is there any way we can downgrade?”

“Oh, yes, we definitely could get you a 35-gallon! It’s a different department, so do you mind if I transfer you over to billing?”

“Of course, no problem,” I said through a mouthful of protein bar. Shortly after, I speak to a much less chipper man from billing and get our can size reduced to a 35-gallon. Barely clocking back in on time, I shoved the rest of my protein bar into my mouth and think my problems are solved.

Tuesday night, I’m paranoid something will go wrong. We have a weekly rotation of chores between the three of us in the house, and it was not my week for trash. I text my roommate to remind her to put all of the cans out tonight and head to bed. Perhaps, deep down within me, I knew something was off.

The following day, I return home from work to find a small yard waste container sitting in the grass patch between my driveway and the neighbor’s. Since it was considerably closer to where they put their cans out, I didn’t think much of it. I checked the garage where my roommate had put the cans away, and we had everything we needed; except we still had a 60-gallon trash can and 35-gallon yard waste container.

Annoyed, I mentally prepare myself to argue my future trash bill since I’ve asked for the smaller can twice now. The next morning, I notice my neighbors still hadn’t put away their yard waste container. Nor did they the next day. Or the day after. Curious, I glance at where they keep their cans along the side of the house.

All three cans were present. Since they moved in long before us, I recognized the reality. That extra can was for us. Feeling guilty for leaving a can haphazardly in the yard, I rolled it into the garage and heavy sighed. Seriously, why has this been so annoying? Thinking I could bypass the phone call, I go online. Entering in my street address and name, the online portal tells me that I am not registered as the resident for the address.

Thinking the services may still be under my landlady’s name, I check in with her. I let her know that I attempted to transfer services, but Republic seems to think it’s under the previous tenant. She tells me she’ll give them a call. The next day, I get a text, “It should all be under your name now”. Excellent.

I login, and it works! Hallelujah! I scour the website, trying to find any billing information, or can delivery information. Nothing.

Literally nothing other than our pick-up date. Back to Plan A. You are probably noticing a pattern at this point.

“Thank you for calling Republic Services, this is Jeanine. How can I help you?”

“Hi. We recently requested a smaller trash can and received a small yard waste can instead. Is there anyway I can schedule a pick up?”

“Hmm. Is it a 60-gallon can?”

“No, it’s the 35. But we want a 35-gallon trash can.”

“We only have 60-gallon yard waste cans. The only 35-gallon option is for trash. You received a green can right?”

“No, we received an extra gray can.”

“Our cans are tan for recycling, green for yard waste, and gray for trash, so that should be right.”

My jaw drops. I hadn’t had trash pick-up services since I lived at my parents in a different city, and there the trash cans are green. There was an awkward pause as I discovered my inner idiot, and mild shock that my roommates didn’t question it either. “I’ll check and see for sure what we have and get back to you.”

I did not have to check. These color-coded cans had been haunting me, and I knew exactly which wheeled garbage vessels sat in my garage. But I had to know how much of an idiot I was, so I clicked the garage door opener and held my breath as it squeaked up in front of me. Taking a closer look at each of the cans, I see that they are, in fact, labeled. I also discover we have two 10-gallon blue bins. Great.

Why am I the way I am. I’ve made this so difficult for myself, and the Republic Services customer service team probably thinks I’m insane. Either way, I have an extra can, and I need to return it. I call again, too proud to out myself, and tell the rep that we received an extra 35-gallon gray trash can and one extra blue bin, and request they be picked up. He gives me the same spiel I received before, put all the cans out, label them, blah blah blah, they’ll get picked up on Wednesday or possibly the following Wednesday because we’re close to the pick up date. Coolcoolcool.

Wednesday morning comes around, and all the carts are out, as has been our routine. I spend a good portion of my day at work thinking about how happy I am that this is over, and I can focus on the other aspects of my chaotic life.

Dear readers, if you’ve come this far, you must learn the truth: there are still 3 weeks left in this journey.

I remember the moment I parked my car, glaring at the extra cans across the street. Yes, you read that correctly. CanS. PLURAL. Republic Services had not ONLY neglected to take our extra can and bin, they dropped off ANOTHER CAN. When I saw this new can, I became defensive. This felt like a personal attack. Why? Let me tell you. This new can was 60-gallons, with a gray body and a green lid. A hybrid, mocking monstrosity. I swear Republic Services was having a hayday with me.

WHAT EVEN ARE YOU?!?!? My mind screamed at the two-toned inanimate object. I’m losing it at this point. What in the actual heck. I vented on my snapchat story that night the story so far, thinking it was close to over. Pausing to breathe, I remember what the rep told me. If they didn’t pick it up today, they’ll pick them up next week, right? Sure. That’s reasonable. Then I hear back from the roommate who was taking out trash that week.

“Not to make it worse, but I noticed when I was putting the cans away they didn’t even empty them. It was super weird.”

“Oh my gosh. I bet you they tried to empty the ones that were left out to be returned, even though they were CLEARLY LABELED. I cannot.” My eye is twitching nonstop. At this point, I’m house sitting, and I don’t think to remind my roommates that we have to put all of the cans out… again.

I arrive back at our place early the following Wednesday morning to grab a few things before going to work. As I park, I suddenly realize that the only cans on the curb are the trash can and one blue bin.

???

Hoping they haven’t come past yet, I burst into the garage and roll out all the other cans. My hopes were useless. I returned home after work to find all cans as they were, with the exception of one of the blue bins. My roommate had put some paper recycling in it, and so they kindly decided to write on it in white pen “GLASS ONLY”. Apparently we have a history.

Two days later, I am praising the Lord I have a Friday off and can call Republic Services, and I beg Him to help them take our extra cans.

“Thank you for calling Republic Services. This is Cassie, how may I help you?”

I can’t contain myself. I tell her everything in the most summarized form I can within a single breath. “… So I just really, really want to have the right amount of cans,” I gasp.

She stifles a laugh and I wonder if Cassie isn’t also conspiring against me. “Yeah, we can do that for you. Place all of the cans out for Wednesday morning pick up, and label the ones you want returned.”

“I individually labeled and set aside the cans to be returned in the past and they were missed. Is there anything else I can do to make that more clear?”

“Um, maybe put a sign out that’s really obvious, but they should be able to tell.”

My eyes roll back into my head as I wonder if I should add flashing lights to the A-frame I am considering purchasing for the occasion. “Okay, sounds great. Thanks.” I remember I have a piece of posterboard that got a little beat up during the move. Perfect.

Tuesday night rolls around. It’s not my trash night, but I am excited for the end. Finally back from house sitting, all I can think about is how soon, SO SOON, we will have the right amount of cans.

I wake up at 6:45 AM Wednesday morning. Walking to the living room, I stare out the window with wide eyes. Snow and ice. Lots of it. My little sedan does not handle ice well, so I text my manager for a ride to work, and I start rushing to get ready in time. All bundled up, I walk out the front door with the dog attached to my hip and I remember something.

I didn’t put out the poster board sign! I had envisioned so many witty and snarky messages for that board. It should have been my final word, my middle-finger to the devil and his trash can tools.

At this point, I start jogging through the snow with my dog, determined to get back in time to put out that sign. After a short detour due to my neighbor’s off-leash dog, I get the “Here” text from my manager. She’s early. Crap.

I type back a quick, “Be out in a few, got held up by a neighbor” and resume running. My fingers are frozen as I throw open our front door and unleash the dog. Sprinting upstairs, I grab the posterboard and a pink highlighter, scrawling “RETURN” as large and as thick as I can. I’m panting when I run into my roommate and tell her I forgot the sign.

“Oh, they already got them.”

“THEY DID?!?”

“Yeah, just after you went out. I watched them pick the right ones up and everything.”

I had been in such a hurry I hadn’t even noticed the lack of cans when I ran back to the house. It had happened. The cans were gone. After two months of phone calls, confusion, and frustration, it was finally over.

And on the day when the roads are sketchy, when all of our cans were covered in snow, they figured out exactly what needed to be taken and what needed to stay. I thought for sure they would fail, but for some strange reason, they made it happen on the most questionable day possible.

I haven’t had to call Republic since, and I hope I never have to again. I hope they remember me as the crazy can lady, and they laugh. We’ve been through so much together. They have shaped who I am as a person. I am… changed.

If you related, let’s grab a drink. If you didn’t, well, thanks for powering through my trash relationship. This is one of many ridiculous stories in my life, and I accidentally signed up for it. A few years ago, I prayed to God for more adventure and excitement in my life.

Boy, did He deliver.

With humility and the perfect amount of trash cans,

K.G.

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