So, I'm here in England now, and our "Rubbish Collection" day is Tuesday, today. Being the stay-at-home-housemate, I've got a few self-appointed household responsibilities. Mostly because I'm a neurotic Virgo, and partly because I'm home more often than my wife and Housemate Hazel. So I manage things like general cleaning. I'm also the crumb wiper, dishwasher guardian, Bissell & Dyson master vacuum'er, dining room table junk magician (my famous "disappearing junk" trick is a winner!) and I'm constantly on cat fluff patrol. Also, I share recycling bin emptying, and taking out the rubbish chores with Hazel. Not that I know much about owning a house, because I'm the DIY-inept, not grown-up enough-to-have-an-actual-house, PROUD owner of a condominium back in Florida, where your garbage, water, lawn and pool are maintained by a company which you pay DEARLY for every month ontop of your mortgage. I digress. But, my point is, just about anywhere, your recycling bins come from your local town hall, county, whatever- public office, city hall -ugh- one of those places. Anyhow, over here in England, your rubbish bins AND recycling bins get appointed to you by the council. A brown one for your regular garbage and a green one for your recycle-ables. You get ONE of each. You have to apply for more than one, if you're that kind of needy asshole and apparently have a pretty good reason as to why, like "Enormous Catholic family...Fat bastard of a Husband.....Pregnant teenager (again).....Wild Party'ers" or something along those lines. Well, we have the standard: one of each.
Have you ever seen the movie "The Sandlot"? It's from 1993 about a group of young boys, set in 1962, who play baseball in a sandlot, and keep losing the balls over a fence into a scary, old man's yard, played by James Earl Jones. Ok, I suppose it was about more than that, but stick with me here....
We just so happen to have a similar kind of neighbour, who shall remain nameless, because... quite frankly, I don't know their name. But, scary, just the same, in a silent, creepy, crazy eyes-way. Anyhow, last week, on Rubbish Collection Day, I went out to retrieve the bins, and noticed that Scary Neighbour's bin was in our driveway. It was clearly marked with their house number and everything, but no sign of ours anywhere. I wasn't quite sure what to do, but decided we couldn't be without a bin, so I quickly brought it up the driveway and put it off to the side of the hedge and came inside. I told Housemate Hazel what I did and she laughed and said, "Next week, we'll just swap it back and get ours from their driveway after the rubbish has been collected." Sounded easy enough. "Mission: Rubbish Bin Retrieval" was set in motion. As my luck would have it, Housemate Hazel would be away on business this Rubbish Collection Day, so I was now the primary operative in charge of the mission.
Rubbish Collection Day: 6:47am
Since the sun rises at 4:18am, I was up at the crack of dawn. I put on my "normal" jeans and t-shirt so I would not cause any suspicion and carried out my morning routine of coffee, twitter, and "Draw Something" as not to arouse attention in any way. Mind you- no one was home.
8:51am- Rubbish Collection Truck Approaches
The loud, obnoxious truck squealed and grinded down our narrow street at it's usual time. I could see the stinky, gross men in their hi-visibility vests, carelessly grabbing the brown bins and unloading the shit into the nasty mouth of the truck then shoving the bins back in the general vicinity of the house.
Once they were out of sight and down the street, I made my move. I went out our back door, down the narrow walkaway that runs along side of Scary Neighbour's house, to the gate that opens to our driveway. I looked to the right- no sign or Scary Neighbour. I looked to the left- no sign of Nosey Neighbour. I looked across the street- no sign of Old Sickly Lady Neighbour. Everyone had their curtains drawn, no bus wankers were walking to the bus stop. I was totally clear. I hightailed it to the end of the drive and grabbed the handle of the bin, wheeling briskly and directly to Scary Neighbour's driveway. There were TWO other brown bins and the green recycle bin within my sight. (TWO?!) As I approached, I was careful not to look up for fear of CCTV cameras, and I made the swap- I was swift and precise as I left their bin, and grabbed one of their remaining two brown bins successfully. I was retrieving our bin unspotted! I got up our driveway, by the hedge, rolled the bin into it's spot and it was then I noticed it-- there it was right in front of my face: Scary Neighbour's house number on THIS bin! I had taken the wrong bin! This was a disaster. I panicked. I grabbed the bin, rolled it back down the driveway, turned left, and rolled the bin right back. This is when I noticed that all THREE of Scary Neighbour bin's had their house number on them. In my very frazzled state, I left the bin, scooted back to my driveway, looking down the street to see if any other neighbour possibly had more than one bin that could be ours. Nope. My shoulders dropped, as I moped back inside the house. I had failed miserably at "Mission: Rubbish Bin Retrieval". An epic fail, indeed. Not only was it a failure, but I could see out the window to my right, that Nosey Neighbour was having a conversation with Down The Street Neighbour, and both were standing outside, hands on hips, looking up and down the street. It was as if Down The Street Neighbour was having the same situation. He, too, was on a quest to retrieve a lost ...or stolen...bin. "Good luck, my friend. Good luck", I thought, knowing all too well what a crafty, skillful neighbourhood this was when it came to the brown bins.
8:59am- Report to Housemate Hazel
I picked up my cell phone and text Mission Control, aka: Housemate Hazel. I outlined the details of the blown operation and waited for her reply. A faint beep of an incoming text filled the silent room.
"Steal it back!" - she replied. I sat, staring at the message. Blinking, sweating, biting my lip. Was she serious?
I texted her back: "Look, I'm not going to get deported for 'Theft of a Rubbish Bin'..." and waited for her next reply.
If it were blood diamond smuggling, lesbian model human trafficking, or a black market Persian kitten selling, I could totally understand, because those would be cool (and good movie making plots!) but 'Rubbish Bin Theft' was not worth my passport, deportation back to The States or my reputation.
Mission Control texted back: "They have obviously re-branded our bin! This is an outrage!"
I texted her back: "There were old men neighbours outside, I can't go back out there. They'll see me. I'll be made, and then I'll have to kill them."
Mission Control texted back: "WHAT?!"
Me: "I mean, I have bed head."
Just as I was waiting for her reply, the Recycle Collection truck roared down the street. I looked up to see the men emptying our green bin, and without hesitation- I bolted from the table to save our green recycle bin and avoid any further scandal. I was NOT going to let this travesty happen again and worse - with our recycle bin! I burst through gate, and down the driveway to grab our green bin, when Nosey Neighbour popped up from around the side of his car, "Hello there!" I froze in my tracks. I was NOT letting go of this fucking green bin. He could murder me for it, but he'd have to pry it from my cold, dead hands. "Hi," I said, as I turned to roll it up the driveway. "Great weather, isn't it?" he said. I nodded, making it to the top of the drive, by the hedge. "Makes for more chores, though," he laughed, holding up his rag that he was waxing his car with. Hmm.. he was cleaning his car...or was he a double agent working for Down The Street Neighbour? Ooo...cunning bastard. Ok. I'll play your game. "Yes, indeed, the weather has been awesome," I said, having put the green bin in it's spot. "Where abouts you from in The States?" he asked. Interesting approach, going right for the information to bring back to his Down-The-Street-Boss. I immediately swung into action, using my best redneck southern accent, "Flaaaarida," I said. It was a big state, I didn't give a city. That's vague but enough. "Oh, lovely. Never been. Only to Nashville. Loved it. Going back next year for a visit."
As he spoke, I looked around, like any good agent would. I took in the sights. Housemate Hazel could be right. Not one other house had more than one brown bin, but Scary Neighbour had THREE. Probably collecting them in the middle of the night and using those peely sticky labels to put their stupid house number on them! It dawned me, I could pull off the biggest reverse bin heist this shitty town has ever seen right in front of Nosey Neighbour's face! "Yeah, Nashville is really nice. Hey, I just noticed we're missing a brown bin," I said, my eyes wide, gauging his reaction. Ooo...he was good, like some kinda professional. He didn't crack at all. Didn't flinch. He looked past me and said genuinely, "Well, they have three. One of them must be yours." I nodded slowly, "I think you may be right, Sir." I bravely walked right onto Scary Neighbour's driveway, grabbed a bin, turned it so the house number faced me, away from Nosey Neighbour, and shoved it into our hedge. I could feel Mr. Nosey watching me. Either I just totally walked into a trap, OR, because he couldn't see the number, thinks I really did retrieve my own bin, or...it's all a big set up by Nosey, Scary, and Down The Street who are part of some vigilante rubbish bin task force and they'll be sending me up the river. I'll end up in some rotten dungeon-like London prison cell, eating stale scones, and drinking cold shitty PG Tips tea, awaiting deportation back to hot, sweaty Florida- all for stealing back a rubbish bin. The very thought of it is overwhelming. Nothing worse than stale scones. It's probably why my mother always travels with granola bars & pretzels. Now I get it. But those would be taken away from me in the strip search after I'd been through interrogation and tortured with "Eurovision" music. The news cameras would be all over me when immigration officials walked me to the awaiting plane as I scream "Mr. Nosey told me to take it!" causing a huge worldwide investigation, bigger than the Phone Hacking scandal, which would eventually lead to Scary Neighbour being put in jail for stealing rubbish bins, and land me a best selling novel, a lesbian webseries and I would go on to have my own talk show.
9:15am- Report to Mission Control
I texted Housemate Hazel "I did it! I stole the bin back right under Mr. Nosey's nose!"
She seemed proud enough, I guess.
Her reply: "Good! Now, we just need to get the number off. Is it painted on?"
Me: "I think it's just sticky labels"
Her reply: "Ok, good."
Me: "You can do that, though. Just wait until dark. I can't be an accomplice any more. My work here for today is done."
And with that, I retired from the Rubbish Bin Retrieval Double Agent life. Even though I've looked over my shoulder 17 times today, and instinctively almost hit the dirt when Mr. Nosey walked by- I think it was the right choice. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some REAL writing to do, just in case Hollywood comes calling for my story.