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Wet Trash

Posted by Linda Handzel

May, 2011. It has been pouring for over a week, but the trash is piling up, and is bugging me. Ben and I have to get our teeth cleaned, so we will leave early and take a load to the dump before we go to the dentist’s office. We have another appointment after the ‘tooth cleaning’, so we will use the time in between to buy groceries. There, that is a nice, little plan isn’t it?

It has been too long since we have been to the dump (ahem, ‘re-cycle center,’ say it slowly now), so I spend about an hour sorting through magazines, metals and other ‘stuff’ that needs to be (say it slowly now) ‘re-cycled’. Then I make countless trips out to the car to load the assortment. All the seats are folded down, except the front two. My SUV is FULL of trash.

Ben continues doing his schoolwork, while I take a quick shower. (We know how close the hygienist leans in while cleaning our teeth, and we certainly don’t want to ‘smell badly’, do we?)

I had left the back hatch open until the last minute, because I did not want to trap the smells of old kitchen trash inside the car any longer than necessary. Now as I close it and pull out of the driveway we comment to each other: “this place stinks.” It’s that way every time we haul the du… ahem ‘re-cycle stuff’. We’re on our way, but less than a mile from the house a warning bell sounds inside the car.

Ben reads the indicator light above the windshield: “Mom, we have a flat tire.”


“No way!”


“Un hunh, it says we are down to 12 pounds of pressure on the right rear. No, wait, make that 10 pounds.”


(Houston, we have a problem.)


I watch traffic for an opportunity to pull over: “What does it say now?”


“Six pounds.”


As soon as I stop Ben jumps out of the car… “YUP, she’s FLAT!” (Ever wonder why it’s a ‘she’? Why isn’t ‘he’ flat?) 


I step out into the rain to check for myself… oh dear, she is definitely VERY flat!


 Ben springs into action: “Well, I guess I’m changing a tire!”  


We move trash out of the back of the car so we can move trash in the middle of the car to the back of the car, so we can fold a seat out of the way to get to the jack that is stored under the second-row seat.


While Ben works on getting the jack out, I’m mentally going through the steps:

1. Figure out where the jack goes, then safely jack the car up.

2. Figure out how to get the spare tire out from the underside of the car, where Chrysler thought it should be stored.

3. Figure out how to get the hubcap off.

4. Figure out where I put the number to roadside assistance.


“Ben, I’m paying for roadside assistance, this is a perfect opportunity to use it!”


 “No Mom, I can change it!”


“I know you can, but it’s pouring, and I have already paid for this service, why not let THEM get soaked?”


We stand there in the rain, arguing. He had already crawled under the car to see where the jack should go, and was now wetly graveled. 


After some discussion the level head prevails, and I convince him this is the better way.


We climb back into the car. Man it stinks in here! 


The operator answers the call with this question: “Are you in a safe place?” I answer positively, but think to myself: “What if I scream: NO, help, here he comes!” 


I stifle my sarcasm and give the lady information about our location. She announces that the tow service would be here “in about 50 – 55 minutes.” Unh hunh. Well, we won’t be getting our teeth cleaned today, now will we? “Ma’am, could you please google the number to my dentist?” She kindly complies.


While we wait Ben uses his computer to watch home-schooling lessons. I watch the rain. I could turn on the radio, but I don’t. The over-powering odor from the trash is giving me a headache. 

I’m sure something brilliant is going to pop into my head any minute now. And it does. “Someday we’re gonna’ talk about this, and we’re gonna’ laugh! But it won’t be today!” 


The back hatch is still open. Occasionally wisps of fresh air drift through the car in our direction and it smells wonderful. I can’t roll down the other windows, because it’s raining too hard. 


I wonder what we must look like to the traffic going by. We have bags of trash spilling out of the back of our car that is full of trash. And more trash on the ground is getting soaked. 


We’re parked on the side of someone’s driveway, so no one stops to offer assistance. 


Well, the tow truck driver will have his own equipment, so I will go put the jack back, and try to ‘tidy’ up a little. 


I screw the jack back where it belongs under the second-row seat, then fold the second-row seat back into place, and put the trash back in on top of that seat. Next, I put the trash that I had taken out (and is now wet) into the back of the car. 


It’s pretty wet out here. I stand under the open hatch for a while. 


Inside the odor is painful, but outside I’m getting cold and wetter. I get back into the car. After a couple of minutes I get back out. (We’ve lost contact with Houston.)


Finally after 30 minutes, the tow truck arrives and a man leans out the window with a crooked grin: “Ma’am, that tire is only flat on one side!”


He announces he’ll need to move a certain ‘knob’ under a certain hatch in the back of the car in order to lower the spare tire down from where Chrysler had stored it under my car.


That’s the hatch that is buried in trash. I help him remove several bags of trash, and a couple of boxes of sorted recyclables. I hold the hatch open while he looks at the knob. He says he will need the jack handle to turn that knob. Oh yeah, that would be the jack handle that’s attached to the jack that’s screwed in under the seat that is folded down under that big bag of trash. We can get that!


With the spare tire down on the ground, the man tries to use my jack to raise the car, but the car won’t go high enough, so he gets out his own jack. That’s not high enough either. “Ma’am, could you move your car over to this flatter area?” 


I move several bags of trash out of the way before I move the car. He goes to the other side of his truck and comes back with a bigger jack, commenting he wished he had known he had ‘this one’ in the first place. 


Finally the job progresses, and in ten minutes he is finished. I clear more trash out of the way for him to load my tire (that’s only flat on one side) into the car. The jack goes back in under the seat, we fold the seat back down, and reload the trash again. (Houston, we’re cleared for takeoff.) 


I figure out how to re-load the trash in the back, on top of the tire and we are on our way. As we head for the ‘re-cycle center’ I remark: “Either this place smells better, or my nose hairs are all burned out!”


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