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How my Recycling Can Wheel Was Stolen, and How I Got it Back

Tuesday, July 15, 2008
This is, I swear, all true, despite the surreal nature of the whole thing.

On Monday (trash day), for the first time, I put out my brand new, supplied by my garbage company for a mere $2 per month, industrial-trash-can-sized recycling bin. It is green. In it, I may place all of my recycling, mixed up, with no sorting whatsoever (woo-hoo!).

Later that morning, as I was preparing Sara's lunch, I glanced out the window and noticed a pickup truck slowing in front of the house. Moments later, a man got out and, as he appeared to be heading toward our door, stopped and picked up something from the grass. Another glance a moment later confirmed he was headed for our front door, where, in extremely broken English, he asked if I needed mulch and handed me a card. Although I didn't need mulch, and said as much, I did take the card.

Fast forward about 10 minutes.

Noticing the diapers needed taking out to the trash can, I decided to combine the trip with the necessary chore of dragging both the trash and recycling cans up from the curb. There was only one small problem.

The recycling can was missing a wheel.

" ahh" I thought. That thing the man picked up was a wheel. Well, maybe he placed it in the trash can.
In the recycling can?
Nope. In the grass or flowerbeds somewhere near the house?

So, I return inside, find the card, and call the number scrawled on it in nearly illegible, running-out-of-ink ballpoint pen. What I get on the other end sounds like a conversation in Spanish between two people who have accidentally left their cell phone on without realizing it. All of my shouting "hello!" "OLA!" into the phone is to no avail. I dial again. I get the SAME Spanish conversation, and realize it must be a recording.

While I am listening, a caller beeps in on call waiting, and when I answer it, it's mulch guy! Yeah!

Except, he has no idea what I'm saying when I ask about the wheel. He doesn't understand English.

After much shouting (like THAT'S gonna help with comprehension) and the use of the words "mulch" and "house", I get him to agree to come back, and give him the address. 10 minutes later, he pulls up and I'm waiting out front. I ask about the wheel.


I point to the recycling bin with no wheel and make round motions with my hand.

He says "trash?"

I say "where is it?"

He walks to the back of his truck, pulls out my wheel, and hands it to me.

I put it back on the recycling bin. He drives away.


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