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Let's Talk Trash (standard:Creative non-fiction, 2040 words)
Author: Alpha43Added: Apr 19 2005Views/Reads: 2250/1353Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
When you think about all the items you place in the trash, there truly is a wealth of knowledge to be gained by getting a good look at this very personal portrait of our day to day existence.


Occasionally Jack would dream about the luxury of having the latest and
most up to date equipment. Wouldn’t it be great to have a self-packing 
unit or one with the new bag collector arms? The way White Pine is 
growing, it probably could support and justify a new ultra-modern trash 
collection unit and still be profitable. Maybe it makes sense to 
purchase the latest in waste management technology just to keep some 
outsider from moving in with visions of a hostile takeover of the 
county trash collection business. 

But Jack was content with his one-man operation. Eventually, reality
would set in and Jack would realize that he wouldn’t change the way he 
collects garbage, even if he had all the money in the world. Especially 
after he discovered the “Wave”. 

He will never be rich, but he makes his truck payments and earns a
decent living. This small town does not think of the garbage man as a 
misfit or a low-life doing the only work he is capable of. “Jack’s 
Pick-up Service” is just another business, no different than Stella’s 
Bakery or Bumgardner’s Hardware. 

Jack has been in the trash collection business for 24 years. The first
couple of years were rough with his original beat up truck that made 
Jack swear and the repair shop and parts store people smile. Jack 
started spending his money on payments for a new truck instead of 
repair bills, and life started to smooth out. Jack is on his fourth new 
truck, each one bigger and better than the one before. 

Jack misses the joy of his life, Karen, and even though she succumbed to
cancer six and one-half years ago, he feels fulfilled as a husband and 
he has Becky and Paul to keep Karen’s image alive. Becky is a senior at 
Michigan Tech in Houghton and Paul is somewhere in the skies over 
Afghanistan, piloting a B-1 for the United States Air Force. Jack has a 
fine home, a new Buick La Saber, a near perfect 1930 Model A Ford, 
(with a rumble seat) and of course, the Wave. 

Today, the final day and Grand Parade Day at the 66th National Trout
Festival, Jack is to be honored as “Citizen of the Year” of White Pine, 
getting to ride along side Gloria Bumgardner, Queen of the Trout 
Festival, atop the County Fire Department’s new ‘Quick Response’ pump 

Jack works long hours and really does very little in the way of formal
community service. Rotary Club, PTA, and Band Boosters meetings are 
over before Jack ends his workday. Jack has never been trout fishing in 
his life, so he has little doubt that the reason for the Trout Festival 
honor of “Citizen of the Year” is because of the Wave. 

Everybody said it was dependability, being there every day, week after
week, that makes Jack’s Pick-up Service a success; “Satisfaction or 
Double Your Trash Back!” was his motto. Honesty, fair prices, and 
prompt service were all important business attributes as well. But once 
Jack perfected the Wave, he was able to be much more than a trash 
collector to the people of White Pine. 

The Wave is not a thing; it is a method of delivering the trash into the
big open hopper at the back of the truck. Instead of flipping a trash 
can upside down and promptly dumping the contents into the hopper, Jack 
uses a technique that is similar to throwing a bucket of water into 
someone’s face, a sideways toss, displaying the garbage in an even 
layer across the previous layer. A laying out of the debris much in the 
fashion of an ocean wave rolling up the beach. 

I can imagine some people scratching their heads about now, wondering
what in the heck the ‘Wave’ has to do with anything. It is true; there 
is no great joy in having a ringside seat to view soup cans, coffee 
grounds, and pork chop bones. But billfolds, wedding rings, stock 
certificates, bank passbooks, and cash have been returned to their 
rightful owners because of the Wave and Jack’s ability to spot items 
that do not belong in the trash. 

Jack can also slit a trash bag and spread the contents in an even flow,
observing everything. Sometimes it does not take a keen eye to spot 
non-trash, like the time Mrs. Fleming’s cat raced away after Jack slit 

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