The Hamilton Spectator

If you haven’t run after the garbage truck, are you really alive?


I was trapped in the depths of a very specific and very disturbing dream — I was in a small, extremely cluttered apartment, the radio was playing loudly and I was twisting knob after knob, trying to make it stop. The noise pitched up and up, and my frustratio­n grew with it. It was the garbage truck.

The blue bins were at the curb, but the goal was to get the garbage and green bin out in the morning to avoid the raccoons who often stop by for a feast.

I have a wonky latch on my green bin, which is as effective as hanging an “Open All Night” neon sign on a diner. But this week, like a terrible April Fool’s joke, the thunder of the truck smacked me awake sometime around 7 a.m. I’m not sure about the time — without my glasses, everything is a pleasant blur.

I bolted. In the later retelling of that morning, I will decide I leapt like a gazelle and sprinted down the stairs. In truth, I stubbed my toe on the doorstoppe­r Ari made me when he was six by gluing four rocks together.

I’d propped the door open a bit so the nightlight in the hallway wouldn’t destroy any wisp of sleep that might descend, but the cat could still wander.

I could hear the truck the next street over, like a lion stalking a, well, a gazelle.

I heaved up the garage door, squinting in the early gloom before rememberin­g everything was in the backyard. The truck roared closer.

I should take this moment to reveal that I was barefoot. I was wearing a T-shirt that sort of covered my butt.

I hadn’t planned on a sudden excursion beyond my front door in near-freezing temperatur­es.

The T-shirt has a tie-dye design because I got it to get free shipping. It is not an attractive shirt, but then nothing I order to get free shipping ever is. Over the years, I have ordered, among many things, countless weird socks, a pink baseball cap, a ski buff (I don’t ski), cat treats, a pack of light bulbs and tweezers to qualify for free shipping.

It’s a terrible game as they keep a tally in your cart and you search for the cheapest thing on the site that you might have a use for to save $7.99.

In my free shipping shirt (really wished I’d gotten a pair of free shipping flip-flops), I grabbed the garbage can in one hand and the green bin in the other.

I was threading a needle here, timewise: get the stuff to the curb before the truck swung around the corner and the still of a quiet deadend street would be fractured by two city workers crashing their rig in hysterics or horror.

If I’d been wearing pants, I would have hung around and asked why they were so early in their rotation. I wasn’t, so I didn’t.

Back inside and panting like a gazelle that had spent the winter sitting in a chair drinking wine and eating store-brand potato chips, I spied the truck. Yard waste. I’d forgotten they always arrive first.

A few hours later, I watched as my neighbour retrieved her emptied bins — my new neighbour, whom I haven’t met yet. This was her first garbage day here.

My existing neighbours are aware of my shortcomin­gs, but a break-in period is only fair. I can only hope she’s not an early riser,

I can only hope she didn’t glance out the window, and I can only hope that maybe she, too, doesn’t put her glasses on right away.

I think it’s more likely I will be explaining my free shipping secrets.

 ?? GARY YOKOYAMA THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR FILE PHOTO ?? The thunder of the coming truck smacked me awake sometime around 7 a.m., Lorraine Sommerfeld writes of her race to the curb.
GARY YOKOYAMA THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR FILE PHOTO The thunder of the coming truck smacked me awake sometime around 7 a.m., Lorraine Sommerfeld writes of her race to the curb.
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