Monday, January 17, 2011

the trashman cometh

empty cardboard container, whey protein
banana/orange peels
paper towels (12) one with automotive oil
carry out boxes, chinese
milk carton
condoms (6)
envelope, Bank of America
subscription card, pornography
beer bottles, imported (12)
drip coffee filters (8)

coffee grounds cover everything spilling from the gaping wound in the side of the generic trash bag slouching in the center of my living room. these are just a few of the things that litter the spaces between odd colored puddles in the creases of a plastic sheet i drape over the carpet to keep it from staining. menthol lip balm dabbed under our noses does little to cut the acidic scents that invade our noses with long putrid fingers.

his name is joe, he likes to look nice, cares for his appearance but is cheap behind the scenes. his girlfriend is the blond, i have pictures, from the balcony of the two story apartment across the way but she doesn't know anything about friday night visitors. his roommate thought this was funny to share with a nice complete stranger he met, me, in the coffee shop. "oh you live there, i am just down the way, maybe i will stop by sometime."

joe goes to school two days a week, after work, learning to get ahead, pursuing the next big raise, so he isn't passed up or over in the office. a couple quick phone calls, flavored with information i garner from the garbage entrail covered mail and i begin to paint a picture of what joe likes, who joe is, beyond the front page of his facebook. he doesn't make his bed, i see this through the open door when i stop by to borrow something from the roommate who thought little of it. he even has a teddy bear, white with red accents.

you would be surprised what you can learn about people by what (or who) they are willing to discard. we rarely think about where our trash goes, who looks at it, or why. it just sits in heaps, waiting to be buried, so they can build monuments, tall towers of our plastic wrapped waste, if it even gets there. joe's didn't, and all that i learn fits nicely on a disc, secured in an plain mustard envelope, and he has no control over the image i project.

lucky for him it is a school project on surveillance and not something to slip under his door to remind him that someone is watching and waiting, not believing who he says he is and just maybe willing to prove him otherwise, the next time he opens his mouth, to share truth or otherwise.

the trashman cometh.

55 comments:

Jen said...

The paper shredder is your friend, Joe.

Tom said...

uh oh joe!

blueviolet said...

Another man's trash is just that. Thank God.

CM said...

Creepy.

And I agree with Jen, the paper shredder is a good thing.

Mrsupole said...

Hmm, six condoms, twelve beers, pornography subscription......I would say that the man is a dreamer, possibly nearing middle age and needs that little boost to make things happen. Good news is he doesn't seem to be doing drugs. Okay, I know I need to get my mind out of the gutter or is it the trash. Gonna go back to daydreaming....about a computer that works properly.....

God bless.

who said...

if my name were Joe I'd say

"the sooner the better, the remnants of what remains of my skeletons that were removed from my closet are waiting for what was started, to be completed"

Paul C said...

So true about what people can learn from our trash: our lifestyles, diet, business dealings, values....Hopefully more and more of it is getting recycled these days?

Travel & Dive Girl said...

It's scary to think what people can learn from our trash.

Brian Miller said...

haha mrsu...its been a while since i was creepy...and this one is actually a true story...the most amazing class...my prof was a nut..and yes we had to sign waivers to be put under surveilance sometime during the semester...

Syd said...

I remember reading about some guy who went through Dylan's trash. He kept going through the trash. Weird. I would hate to be a PI.

Neva Flores said...

Oh wow! I have never even thought about these things........hmmmm

Lori said...

I know someone that had to do something like this in college...they went through a garbage bag and from what was in the people's garbage, they could tell a lot about the people...to prove a point they went through my garbage really quick like and I was blown away by what they knew.

Sophia said...

I don't think I could have said this any better. And I do like what Paul C said alot!

Magpie said...

What a bizarre class! I think people would be bored by my trash. :(

Daniel said...

Whoa, this is powerful. The facade that we erect with diligence is really a cheap see-through facade under the bright light of day.

Me said...

What a creepy, crazy class!

5thsister said...

Oh this was a bit chilling and a lot freaky. And with all that information freely floating in cyberspace as well, who knows when the stalker (trashman or cyber sleuth) might make an appearance on our doorstep

KB said...

Makes me think about what's in my trash. Interesting.

Smart Mouth Broad said...

Protecting your privacy is exhausting!

secret agent woman said...

I've always hated the idea of someone getting into my trash - and I am really careful about things that contain personal information.

Jim Swindle said...

A couple of years ago I was delighted to find that my trash man was a guy I'd met and liked elsewhere. He was happy to see me, too--hugged me that day. After that, I'd greet him from time to time as he did his work. Then trash pickup changed. Now it's just guys I don't know. I say "Thanks" or "Gracias," but they seldom even nod back.

Eva Gallant said...

A kind of scary post!

ladyfi said...

Great writing with dark undertones...

Kay said...

Joe needs some schooling on recycling and composts (apparently)!! :)

Creepy post, Brian. ha!

Zuzana said...

Trash makes me nervous. The smell of it, the idea of it. The fact that it doesn't really disappear, but that it is buried or burned, is creepy.;)
I think my trash is neat - or as neat as it can be.:) I try to keep it neat so no one can learn anything about me from it.;) Except that I somehow manage to generate very little of it.;)))
Great ideas as always dear friend,
xoxo

Shadow said...

eeeeeck! i'm gonna start dropping my trash in a different street from now on....

Tabor said...

So true and almost as creepy as Facebook. So glad I am too old for anyone to be interested in stalking.

Valerie said...

I'm quite meticulous with my trash, even so I shall examine it a bit closer in future ... just in case someone's looking.

slommler said...

Never thought about someone looking through my trash. Hmmm! Wonder what it says about me. Lately, I have been purging areas in my house! Lots of interesting things being discarded.
Interesting and though provoking post!
Hugs
SueAnn

e said...

This makes me glad that most of my trash is used cat litter...I wonder if that would dissuade picking through it...

Another good reason to go paperless!

Alan Burnett said...

Your inventiveness knows no bounds. Great work Brian.

annell said...

Yes, you are amazing! Mr. Brian.

Lorraine said...

he has cometh here and boy is he fussy, love this lol

Sex, Drugs and Bacon Sandwiches said...

I need to go and check mine now...

Birdie said...

oh wow,how can you come up with stuff like that? it would not even cross my mind to look into somebody's trash :-) and not just because it is a trash ... ;-) happy day Brian!

Anonymous said...

thats a very interesting statement brian, and true one.

"you know a lot about a man by the things he is ready to discard."

trisha
mydomainpvt.wordpress.com

TechnoBabe said...

My trash is an open bin, just like my life. Not always that way though.

Myrna R. said...

Didn't know I was going to be thinking about my trash today. My mind went to considering that I make too much trash (not a good ecological detail), then I thought about all the emotional trash I have shed...and all that still needs to be thrown away. So, the trashy experience you recount turns out to be a reason for self analysis for me. That's some good writing.

TALON said...

An interesting character study of a person through their trash, Brian. Unique.

Vicki Lane said...

I love picking up discarded grocery lists in the grocery store and imaging the person who made the list.

Bachelor said...

so glad there are trashmen willing to do a job so many think for only those who can't do anything else. shame on us.

nance marie said...

i have a lot-a trash
i even talk trash
i'm in and out trash
taking out trash
it seems i keep trash
keep getting more trash
surrounded abounding trash
in more and more trash
no matter what
i know some day
i'll be without trash

Heather said...

we had a similar class back in college, so very interesting . it is a bit odd to think of someone looking at your trash...a shredder is a great idea! he he he, mrs. u's comment made me laugh! xo

Helen said...

Profiling ~ at its finest.

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Nessa said...

I was going to say there's a whole forensic psychology discipline on garbage (actually I did say it now) but you mention this in your piece.

It is amazing what you can learn by actually looking at people's things, including their garbage.

Your concrete descriptions made this is rich.

Sue said...

yikes

"/

Claudia said...

guess the beer bottles were imported from germany (the only country where you get decent beer...smiles..)
this post made me feel very vulnerable somehow and i think we may give too much information away just light-hearted without thinking - not only with our trash

Claudia said...

..and by the way - where's your villanelle..? smiles

Pastor Sharon said...

Now that's something to think about.

I just did a mental inventory to make sure if my trash was spread across my neighborhood that I could still hold my head up high as I went to gather it in another bag.

well done.

Bethany Ann said...

sometimes i'll chew a cookie up and then spit it in the trash, if i decide it isn't worth the calories... but nobody knows.

Chocolate Covered Daydreams said...

Excellent Brian, as always. Not taking away from what you wrote but I have to thank you for reminding me to put out the trash because tomorrow, the trash man cometh! :)

gayle said...

Sounds like a fun class!

Marla said...

Makes me think about my own trash/life.

Sumit Sarkar said...

I agree with Mrsupole...
Interesting read... :)