Thursday, November 4th, 2021

Woman Versus Hydraulic truck

On today’s episode of “Woman Versus Hydraulic Truck,” Middle-Aged Woman races around town in a nondescript grey mini-van wielding a pair of trusty leather work mittens and accompanied by her faithful sidekick, Nine-Year-Old Girl. At the same time, two men operating a large trash truck with a hydraulic lift collect yard waste for annual leaf pick up day. Here’s the breaking newsβ€”





After eating breakfast, brushing teeth, and getting dressed in the morning, Six-Year-Old-Boy hears a noise outside the door. He peeks to investigate. They’re collecting the leaves! Yay! Oh, no! Does this mean Organic Waste Family is out of time? Are they stuck with the mere twentysomething bags of leaves that they collected the previous day?


β€œI’ll drive you to school,” says the mother, mentally cringing at the amount of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, nitrous oxide, ammonia, and persistent organic pollutants she will be releasing into the atmosphere by choosing the family van over the electric cargo bike.


Shod and hatted, the small family pours out the front door, only to find the van coated in a thick crust of frost. β€œHow time consuming,” thinks the mother, β€œnow I need to scrape the windows and turn on the defroster to thaw the windshield. Double waste of energy.” She removes most of the van seats, covers the floor with drop cloths, then sprints to the shed to grab the ice scraper that’s been sitting under the garden shovels since last winter. She scrapes that frost like mad! When the windows are cleared enough to drive safely, she takes a slight detour to the school in order to assess the extent of damage the collection truck has done to the fine rows upon rows of leaf bags that, with few exceptions, appeared by the side of the road the previous night: the night before collection.


After dropping Six-Year-Old boy off at elementary school in the nick of time, the race is on. Woman drives up the street and fills the van with the first load of bags. She drives home at a reasonable speed, backs to the fence, opens the gate, procures a wheel barrow, and wheels the heavy bags to the rear of the yard one by one. Before the second trip, she removes the booster seat and the remaining rear seat from the van. Nine-Year-Old-Girl rides up front. They spot the trash truck moving slowly on its route.


Most of the remaining leaf bags seem to be clustered on the streets directly south of the school. Girl counts fourteen bags in the second load of the morning. Fourteen bags pack the rear of the van with no seats. Loaded, unloaded. The barrow’s single wheel, un-greased for over a decade, groans loudly. The second load is done.


Upon returning home with the third load, Woman realizes there will be no good path to the rear of the yard where the leaves are stored unless she does something drastic. She grabs a shovel and moves the remainder of the finished compost further from the back fence, closer to the home-made three-bin-composting system made of reclaimed lumber and re-used hardware. The third load is unloaded.


Returning to scout the streets for a fourth load of leaf bags, Woman’s heart skips a beat. They’re gone! The last bags are gone! And here’s the truck, the men loading in bags by the dozen up the final dead-end street on their route and she has only six bags in the final load!


Girl has an idea. β€œLet’s go up that street,” she says, pointing. And there, like a gift from the organic waste gods, seven bags that some foolish home-owner left under a barren maple tree, too far from the road for the trash truck to collect. Woman collects the last soggy-bottom bags and returns home. “Not bad. Not bad at all, she thinks,” unloading her loot. “Likely between sixty and seventy bags out there by that back fence.”


As the last of the frost lifts this early November morning, Woman gazes out over her back fence at what was, until three days ago, the last open field in Waterville. Diggers scour the ground. A parade of dump trucks carries away topsoil at frightening speeds. There will soon be fifty new houses and two apartment buildings in the field. Woman wonders if she can hoard enough organic waste to save herself from the coming apocalypse. Probably not, she decides. Probably not.

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