I'm not sure which my dad likes more, garbage night or the subsequent garbage day. For as long as I can remember, the man has been obsessed with what he calls garbage night, the night before the trash is picked up. Even as a child I can remember him hurrying around, emptying the small trash cans in all the bathrooms or opening the refrigerator, shaking nearly empty bottles and saying things like, "It's garbage night. Who wants to finish this ketchup?"
This has always struck me as odd because, you know, they'll be back to pick up the trash again next week. Couldn't the ketchup bottle wait until then?
I once asked my dad some variation of this very question. He seemed genuinely amazed that I didn't get it and explained, very seriously, that he didn't want the garbage men to be disappointed when they came to pick up our garbage. Other neighbors might fill their trash cans only halfway or three-quarters full, but my dad would be damned if he was going to treat our garbage men that way. As if tossing less than a full can of trash into the truck would be disappointing to those who actually have to lift the suckers.
Same deal with recycling, only considering some of the things stored in recyclables, this finishing things thing of my dad's can get interesting. I distinctly recall the Labor Day weekend of my 16th year, when my dad and I were charged with closing up the beach house at the end of the summer. In addition to all the cleaning and packing and ketchup-finishing, my dad also took it upon himself to finish every open bottle of liquor in the house, which was no small feat. Although he had to sleep on the floor that night to minimize the spins and probably found his throbbing head the next morning fairly disappointing, you can bet your ass the recycling men were not disappointed by a meager recycling take.
I mention all this because I received an email from my dad today with the subject line "garbage nites." After nearly ten years of living on my own, during which I have almost always remembered to put out the garbage on garbage night, I thought to myself, "Jesus Christ. Please tell me he is not emailing me to remind me when garbage night is." He wasn't. He was emailing me to tell me he'd noticed a lot of scrap wood lying around outside on his last visit to the beach and he thought it would be a great idea for me to "please take a few pieces of the scrap wood that is on the ground behind the house and put it in both of the garbage cans every garbage day so we can slowly get rid of it all."
It is obviously killing my dad that A) there is something lying around that he could be systematically getting rid of, B) he has two perfectly good garbage cans just languishing here in their relative emptiness, and C) his daughter is totally wasting the garbage men's time with her triflin' one trash bag a week.
What he doesn't know is that the recycling men are almost always thrilled with my weekly offering.
*Patrick, by the way, is my favorite student I never taught. He will be a junior at Colby next year. As a freshman he was named Colby's Most Wonderful and Awesome New Student, or something like that. Patrick is indeed both wonderful and awesome.