Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Garbage Can Debate--A Cautionary Tale

This morning, as I continued to clean up vacation remnants, I heard the garbage collectors outside emptying our Herbie (non-Lexingtonians, all of our waste containers have names. Rosie is for recycling, Herbie-curby is for garbage, and Lenny is for lawn clippings. Cause we're cool like that...) and thought about how the garbage sat in that can for two weeks while we were on vacation. It was smelling...rather ripe out there. It reminded me to do something I've been wanting to do for well over a year, and I quickly Googled "garbage can cleaning in Lexington, KY" to get some price estimates. Yes...I want our cans professionally cleaned. I fired off a text to Marty, and here was the conversation:
Now. Before you go agreeing with him, let me explain. I cannot believe I'm putting this out there in the blogosphere for all to read, but alas, I want what I have gone through to go to the greater good of humanity. Because it needs to have SOMETHING positive attached to it. Because it was HORRIFIC. If I can save just one person from going through what I experienced, then maybe I can put the whole episode to rest in my mind. Maybe. Probably not.

The story starts almost two years ago, when Marty was in the hospital near death. We were very fortunate in that all of our friends and coworkers got together and created a meal train for us.  It was amazing and so helpful; I had absolutely no time to go to the grocery in the thick of the craziness that was our hospital life; our fridge was always full of good things to eat, and my kids and I, along with visiting family, were well-fed. I couldn't have been more thankful.

Unfortunately, though, we would sometimes end up with little leftover bits of food that had to be thrown away. I would bag and double-bag the leftovers and put them in the trash.  Our Herbie, at the time, stayed in our garage; our neighborhood association has a bylaw against leaving cans outside of houses, and we get fined if ours stays out a day past our collection day. That wasn't the problem, though.  The problem was that rolling the Herbie to the curb each week was one of Marty's jobs. I wasn't used to doing it, therefore I couldn't remember to do it. The end result was a rank Herbie that had been in my garage for two weeks without being emptied.

It gets worse.  The other thing you need to know is that we use our garage for storage, and for an extra play space. When the kids play outside, we always open the garage so that they can go in and out. Anderson's yard tools are in there, as well as the kids' bikes, sidewalk chalk, etc. I include this because you need to know that my children actively play in there, and were playing in there at the time of the...incident. It was August and our house was a revolving door of helpful friends and family taking turns to be with my kids so I could go to the hospital to be with Marty.  So, whoever happened to be watching the kids at the time, be it me, family, or friends, would inevitably take them outside. Which meant the garage was open. With the rank Herbie.

One night, after yet another exhausting hospital day during which Marty had started getting better but had the unfortunate side effect of ICU psychosis (which wasn't dangerous like ARDS, but was exhausting for me as a caregiver; he thought everyone was trying to kill him and I was the only person he'd listen to...good times). I remember being EXHAUSTED this particular evening. Bone tired. Dead tired. Whatever you want to call it.  I went into the garage to get some dog food for the dog, and that's when I saw them.  I looked closer at the ground.  Little black things that could only be one thing in my mind--mouse poop.  I cried. Hard.  I was so tired, so stressed, and now I had to deal with a mouse infestation. I felt guilty. My kids had been PLAYING in there hours earlier and I hadn't even noticed.  I started Googling mouse poop to determine whether my kids could get sick from it. I texted friends, freaking OUT. I cried some more. Googled exterminators.  Went to bed with the plan to drop my kids off at school in the morning and then come home and start cleaning out the garage.

The next morning I woke up depressed but determined. I got the kids to school, checked in on Marty to be sure he was okay, and then I came home and started taking everything out.  In the light of day, with a little sleep and a lot more clarity, I got a closer look at the situation.  Friends, it wasn't mouse poop after all--it was MAGGOTS. I cringe as I say that. Absolutely cringe.  The black things were little hatched shells. The source? The Herbie, where all that leftover food had been sitting for two weeks because I couldn't remember to take out the garbage can.  I cried again--a lot--and then I set about cleaning it. I emptied the garage completely and swept up/killed an unnatural amount of maggots and maggot shells.  It was like a scene from a horror movie, and it took hours--the entire day, in fact.  I dragged the Herbie into the backyard and literally poured a gallon of bleach in it, scrubbed it with a broom. I bought cans and cans of organic, natural bug spray to continuously spray the flies that had hatched and were living in the garage. I had to do this for days. DAYS.

So, when our can goes unemptied in the heat of summer for over a week, you can see why I get a little antsy. I never, EVER want to go through that again. Therefore, I will be calling a cleaning company and letting them clean that damn Herbie. Let my suffering be a warning to you, too--trust me, you don't want to go through what I went through.

Marty isn't sold on it because he wasn't THERE! If he had seen the horrors, he would be on my side. I didn't even want to bother him with it, you know, with the whole almost-dying-thing, so he didn't know for awhile. I'm pretty sure I've earned this Herbie-cleaning. I'm calling it $40.00 well-spent.

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