Regarding My Behavior This Morning

An Open Letter to the Inhabitants of Lakewood Villages:

Dear neighbors and people at whom I occasionally wave when checking my mail,

I would like to apologize for the ruckus at 4:23 this morning. Since moving to the Midwest, I have put substantial effort into disabusing you of any stereotypes you may have previously formed of Southerners. It has not been easy. I have, to this point, resisted the urge to have several cars up on cinder blocks in my front yard. When we purchased a new washer and dryer, I allowed the delivery men from Nebraska Furniture Mart to haul away the old units, rather than set them out in the back yard as jungle gyms for my grandson.

I have not manufactured my own whiskey, methamphetamine, fireworks, or human catapults. I have never scalded a hog in view of your children. I did not modify my lawn mower in order to race it on a dirt track. I have been ever ready to loan you tools you previously were not aware existed, like post-hole diggers and log rollers. Sure, I wear my Air Force BDU pants most days, and I don’t wear shoes except to go to work and when there is more than three inches of snow on the ground, but you have to allow me the occasional nod to my culture. I only bring this up to impress upon you that I’m trying. I really am. This morning, however, I may have undone much of the goodwill I have previously worked so hard to promote among you. I’m sorry, and would like to explain.

As I was backing my truck out of the garage this morning to go to work, I suddenly remembered that due to Thursday’s holiday, today was trash day. Since my driveway grade is roughly equivalent to the Tour de France mountain stages, I didn’t want to leave a running vehicle on it, even in park. So I shut off the truck, ran back into the garage, and grabbed the wheelie-bin/dumpster/trash-can/herby-curby (still not sure what you call them up here).

Now, this was not just any bin-load of garbage. Last week, I forgot about the whole holiday next-day trash thing, and missed the run. The week before, I didn’t even have an excuse – just forgot to put it out. So this morning I had three week’s worth of holiday garbage packed so tightly into that bin that I’m pretty sure I was only two paper plates shy of the whole thing collapsing under the pull of its own gravity and forming a black hole… or quasar… or whatever the hell happens when you put too much of one thing into another thing.

Okay, so I grabbed the trash can full of neutron star, managed to get forward momentum on it, and (suffering from the belief that I am eternally in my 20s) started to run with it out of the garage and down the Alpine slope that is my driveway… at which point I hit a patch of ice.

There was a time in my life when my agility, strength, and reflexes would have allowed me to recover from the slip. That time was approximately June of 1988. I went down. The bin went down. The pressure of the compacted leftover Christmas ham and Styrofoam packing peanuts reached its tipping point, and the contents of the bin exploded down the driveway.

That should have been enough. In the absolute quiet of the pre dawn, it had to have sounded like someone’s house had erupted from a gas leak. It should have been enough. But there was more.

You see, when I went down I was still holding onto my truck keys. During the fall, I accidentally hit the alarm button on the fob. Then, as my arms flailed around trying to protect my ribs from the concrete on impact, my keys went flying off into the grass. So on top of everything else, my truck horn started going off and my truck lights began flashing.

In my logical mind, I knew that the quickest way to end this insanity was to take my time, calmly get up, and carefully look for my keys. But my brain had already panicked and was just sending out random commands to the major muscle groups of my body. This is why, if you happened to look out your window, it may have appeared as though I was trying to swim on my driveway toward the grass… through bags of garbage. Also, you may have heard me yelling some things. I did not mean them. Any references to sexual acts, bodily functions, or questionable paternity did not apply to you. They were, in fact, a sort of Zen exercise for clearing the mind I picked up in the Far East. If anyone has kids who were awoken by the hoopla, and needs me to explain what “bugger” means, I’ll do my best.

Fortunately, I found my keys quicker than I dared hope and was able to shut off the stupid truck alarm. I picked up the trash and re-compacted it as best I could, then rolled the bin to the end of the driveway without (further) incident. Then I slunk off to work before the sheriff could show up. Had I a week to plan a way to scare the crap out of all of you at 4:30 in the morning, I honestly don’t think I could have come up with anything better. I am truly sorry, and am willing to do whatever it takes to gain back your trust with what few skills I have. If you need a toilet replaced, dog neutered, garbage disposal installed, or a light fixture hung half-assed in your kitchen, please do not hesitate to contact me. I owe you.

Your Neighbor,

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