Dumpster Etiquette
By Carol Rawle

Some things you just assume that folks can figure out for themselves.  Like for instance, if the dumpsters are all full and the trash you want to deposit won't permit the lid to close and latch, you take the trash back home until the dumpsters are emptied.  I will concede it's tempting to just jam it in and gamble that the trash truck will arrive before the bears do, but if it's a three day weekend or after 4 pm, you lose and the bears win.

Two commercial compactor trucks serve the entire Trinidad area, including Stonewall and up to Aguilar.  The trash guys get holidays off like everyone else, so that means that they have to play "catchup" following holidays.  One might be inclined to think that the trash guys would work extra hours in order to catch up, but they take off around 4 pm regardless.  So after a three day holiday weekend like Memorial weekend where the holiday falls on a Monday, we get no Tuesday trash pickup.  In fact, when I inquired at US Disposal, I was told that it usually takes the trash guys at least a day and a half to catch up on collection after a Monday holiday.  Do the math.  If you were a bear, how much time would you need to drag everyone's holiday garbage out of the dumpsters and decorate the countryside with the smelly mess?

It was easy for me to picture this scenario since I've arrived at the dumpsters on more than one occasion in the past after the bears have had their way with our garbage.  That's why I left my trash in my truck today when I saw that my wonderful neighbors had stuffed the dumpsters too full to get the lids closed.  Tomorrow morning it wasn't going to be my trash that someone else would have to pick up, one nasty piece at a time, because I had made it easy for the bears.

Since I am what I am, I decided to take myself and my trash down to US Disposal and have a chat.  I asked them why they couldn't make it a priority to empty the dumpsters in "bear country" first after a holiday weekend.  I do think it's a pretty good plan, but the fact remains that it's OUR responsibility to put only as much trash in our dumpsters as they can hold, being mindful that those lids have to close and latch or there will be "bear" to pay the next morning.  Probably to get rid of me, the office ladies offered to let me deposit my trash in their dumpster, and I happily accepted.

I inquired about the upcoming 4th of July weekend and what we could expect in interruption of trash service.  We are relatively in luck since the holiday falls on a Friday, not a Monday.  The office ladies say that Fridays aren't the big crunch that Mondays are, so the truck will probably be able to get to us by late Saturday afternoon.

There's more to "dumpster etiquette" than not stuffing the dumpsters so full that the lids won't close and latch.  When one of my neighbors deposits the cardboard carton their new TV came in, justifying not collapsing it because they've put all their loose garbage inside it, the dumpster will fill up much faster because that box won't smash down.  Not collapsing empty boxes is one of the most inconsiderate violations of dumpster etiquette and clearly demonstrates complete and total disregard for your neighbors.  Anyone who can't take the time to slice the tape at the bottom of the box, allowing it to flatten in seconds, either has no measurable IQ or is a total nihilist and probably should be living in the middle of a desert.

Finally, there's the "no contractor trash" rule.  Just because you are not a licensed contractor doesn't make it okay to use the dumpsters for all the leftover dry wall and lumber scraps from your recent do-it-yourself building project.  If any load of trash you are depositing is more than your average household fare, you need to spring for a legitimate dump run.  And that goes for yard rakings and prunings too.  You are probably depriving a dozen of your neighbors from their fair share of dumpster room.  They pay association dues too.

We could keep adding more dumpsters, but as long as folks keep abusing the rules of "dumpster etiquette", we would only be paying more and more of our association dues to accommodate the laziness and inconsiderate behaviour of some of our neighbors as well as the lowlifes who sneak in off the ranch every so often with their garbage.  To all of my neighbors who didn't need to be told any of this, accept my appology for boring you with the obvious.  To the rest of you, GET WITH THE PROGRAM!