Friday, November 8, 2013
The Garbage Man
THE GARBAGE MAN
Like most Americans, Jerry Spradlin had grown to hate his job with a burning, undying passion. Jerry was a glorified citywide janitor. Every day he was forced to ride on the back of that filthy truck and endure all the conditions, the blazing heat or the frigid cold. The smell of the garbage would seep into his clothes, get into his hair. He’d go home every night reeking like a landfill and would shower twice just to get the stink off.
His younger sister had already accomplished more than he would in a lifetime. Jessica was a straight A student who missed five days of high school in the entire four years she was there. And she was expected to graduate from law school by the end of her final semester.
Jessica’s only flaw was she still hadn’t left that whole Goth phase behind that she had experimented with in high school. Jessica still had a penchant for dark baggy clothing and always used black nail polish that her brother found repulsive.
As Jerry quickly discovered, you can learn a lot from people’s trash. Jerry savored that aspect of the job. It was the only thing that kept him hanging on the back of that truck from summer to winter.
For instance, Jerry knew that his neighbor, John Bulzomi, was using Viagra from the discarded pill bottles Jerry would find in his receptacles. He knew that old Blaine McCormick owed back taxes to the IRS and that Mrs. Federico was two months behind on her car payments.
He noted that rich people usually have lobster shells or steak bones collected in the bottom of their garbage cans. While poor people tend to have microwave dinner packaging and macaroni and cheese boxes stuffed inside their pails.
The truck came to its first stop of the day and Jerry hopped off. He walked to the curb and fetched his own pails and dragged them to the back of the truck. Wednesdays were garbage day for his neighborhood and his house was always the first stop on their route.
He lifted both pails and dumped all the trash into the waste collector. In this mass of chicken bones, rotten fruit, drink cups, disposable utensils, and other uneaten food, he saw it. It was a severed human foot, wrapped tightly in plastic and duct tape. He could clearly make out the black nail polish through the lucid plastic.
Jerry shook his head apathetically, walked to one side of the truck, and pulled the lever that operates the hydraulically powered mechanism used to compact the garbage. He heard the gears chirp and squeak as the metal plate descended, compressing all the waste and squashing it down to virtually nothing.