UCB Parents Jokes & Quotes:
The Cameron Column: Trash Day

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Trash Day
Copyright 1999 W. Bruce Cameron http://www.wbrucecameron.com

Every Wednesday morning for the past nine years, my wife has interrupted
the usual flow of chaos by shrieking, "oh my gosh, it's trash day!"  The
children, all three of whom are in various stages of school preparation,
react to this statement as if she has just spoken Romanian, stopping and
staring at her in numb incomprehension.  "Hurry!"  my wife urges them.  

Being obedient children, they immediately proceed to hurry.  However, with
no specific instructions beyond that, they don't seem to be hurrying to do
anything in particular--certainly, trash collection is in no way involved.
They bump into each other in the hallway a lot, shouting at each other to
"get out of the way!"  

"Gather up all the garbage!"  my wife and I command.  The kids respond by
forming a committee to debate the fairness of this directive.  After a
brief discussion, they reach the consensus that everyone should be held
responsible for his or her "own" junk.  As corollary to this absurd
principle, they initiate an anthropologic study into the contents of each
receptacle.  For example, since the parents cook, most of the trash under
the sink is "theirs."  My oldest daughter haughtily declares that she
"never" throws anything away.  My son, checking through the downstairs
trash can to gather evidence that he's not accountable for that one, begins
to feel remorse over some of the things he's discarded, and starts pulling
items out.  

"We're running late!"  my wife warns.  This could be our Official Family
Motto.

I recently purchased a shredder for my confidential documents, only to
discover I don't have any confidential documents.   However, a
fifteen-year-old girl's entire life is cause for secrecy, and I can hear
her using the device now, grinding up correspondence from her friends in
school.  "We don't have time for that!"  I tell her.  A few minutes later,
my son joins her and begins shredding what sounds like a potato.

The school bus chugs by, and I pick up the phone to call the attendance
line.  "For absences, press 1," the recording tells me.  "For late
arrivals, press 2.  If you're the Camerons calling because it's trash day,
press 3."

"We're pigs," my oldest daughter announces.  I regard her warily.  "We
throw away too much stuff."

"It would be better just to dump it all on the floor in your bedroom like
you do," I agree.

Despite my expectations, a single garbage can has now found its way to the
curb.  My son places it in the center of the driveway, so that no one will
be able to drive to work.  A gusty wind blows an empty milk jug out of the
container and into the woods.  My boy responds with the reflexes of a
glacier, watching the carton bounce away.

I open the door.  "Hey!"  I tell him.  "Go get that!"

He stares at me blankly.  "The milk jug!"  I yell.

"Oh, okay, Dad!" he responds cheerfully.  Having seen his bus pass by has
put him in a euphoric mood.  He picks up a second plastic milk container
and, to my amazement, tosses it into the wind, jubilantly clapping his
hands as it flies into the trees.

"Why did you do that?"  I shriek.

"Well it seemed like a waste of time to go after just one!"  he responds
logically.  He'll make someone a fine husband someday.

All week long my children have been denying that the kitchen trash needs to
be emptied, jumping up and down on the contents to compress them.  As a
result, when I drag the plastic container from under the sink, it weighs as
much as a collapsed star.  I wrestle it to the end of the driveway and the
neighborhood dogs trot up to see what the Camerons will have on the
breakfast buffet this morning.  

My daughter is right; we do throw too much stuff away.  By the time we're
finished, we've dragged so much junk out to the end of my driveway it
resembles the inside of my garage.  The shredder falls silent and the kids
go to school, and what passes for peace at the Cameron house settles over
the morning.  Until next Wednesday.
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