11 June, 2008

When life is like a Seinfeld episode...

Location: somewhere in the Central District, between Fir and Spruce
Mood: vindicated

I moved in to my place on February 28th of this year. My first home. No longer a tenant. Finally, I am the master of my own domain. It felt good. But there are certain things that go along with the new freedom. When things go wrong, you sort of have to deal with it yourself. And if you have a tenant (which I sort of do, though we have an informal arrangement), you need to stay on top of things more because someone else relies on it. But it's good.

I set up all my utilities. The electric. The water. The gas (this was a bit of a pain because we could not figure out the meters at first). The cable (got robbed blind because Comcast does not cover my neighborhood - only Broadstripe, which is much more expensive). The garbage. Having gone through that before, I knew to ask for the largest recycling container, but to get one of the smallish garbage cans (I think it might be the 32 gallon? But maybe it's the 20 gallon?).

Everything is set.

Trash day comes, and in the evening I go to bring the barrels back behind the house, and discover that my lid to my garbage can is missing. This was a little annoying. It had been kind of windy outside, so I figured that maybe it got blown? I walked around looking for it a bit and could not find it. Then I noticed that a lot of people's cans did not have lids. This might be because people don't put the lids out when they put to the curb, or maybe it is because kids are stealing the lids. Judging by the neighborhood, I assumed it could be a combination of the two. And I was moderately peeved because an uncovered can could get raided by crows or raccoons, and a mess would result. I momentarily contemplated trying to snag a lid from another can on the block, but decided that was not really appropriate, and did not.

A month or so later, my friend was visiting from Walla Walla, and he pointed out the excellent idea of storing the garbage can inside the recycling bin, since it is rarely full, and that way the un-lidded can would be protected during the week. Good idea. Problem mostly solved. I really could not be bothered to ask the city for another lid, though they probably would give it to me at minimal or zero cost.

So, I went about my business without the cover. Blah blah blah.

Last week, on trash day, I went outside to bring in my barrel, and I got this weird urge once again to "explore" for a candidate lid for my barrel. I realize this is not ethical, and I am not sure I could really follow through and actually steal someone else's lid. But I looked at the barrels next to my place. And in one of the cans that was the same size as mine, I saw a lid that would fit. And I took it out momentarily to examine it. And this is what I saw:

You might ask why I feel the need to post this photo for you. And the reason is because that is my address. Yes. My lid was in this person's garbage can. And the can that it was in was 163A which is the neighbor who lives behind me. Interesting.

So, of course I took my lid back, 3 months later.

Then, the next day, I come home from work, and I see my neighbor (Charles, fuck anonymity) with his silver BMW 5-series parked in the driveway. He, in gray dress pants, white shirt, and his usual gold jewelry, is standing at the garbage cans across the street and looking around like he's lost something.

I say "Hey, how's it going? Just getting back in town?" (because he travels a lot)

He says "Yeah. And I can't seem to find the lid to my garbage can - I was checking across the street to see if it landed over there - these things have a habit of running off".

And I say "Yeah. I know what you mean. In fact, when I first moved in here, my lid disappeared the first week I was here! And then, magically, out of the blue, it rematerialized yesterday!"

And he says "Really? Yeah. I don't know what happened to mine."

And I say "Hm... actually, let me go take a look at mine, and make sure I did not grab yours by mistake"

And I walk to the back, and I grab the lid, and I bring it to him, and I say "Nope. Looks like this one is mine! You know, maybe the kids took it. I think maybe they like to take these things and use them as toys."

And that pretty much ended the conversation. And he knows he took my lid. And I know he took my lid. And he knows that I know that he took my lid.

This really pissed me off, because it is not as if this could be an error of "omission". He could not possibly have looked at this can every week for 12 consecutive weeks, and not had the thought "This lid says 165A. This belongs to my neighbor." No, instead he just put it back in his garage every week, and covertly enjoyed having procured for himself a replacement for his own missing lid. Every man for himself, I guess! Maybe this guy is just so busy, and so oblivious. But I kind of doubt it.

The worst part, I think, is that I have done nice things for him, unsolicited. He was out of town one time, and a package had arrived and was sitting in his doorway for days. And I finally started to think, "This package is going to be stolen", and I pulled it into my garage and left him a note on the door, saying I had it for him. And we talked after that, and introduced ourselves, and he was thankful.

But not thankful enough to return my lid.


  1. It is possible that he didn't notice he had your lid. It is possible that he found a lid lying on the street and couldn't find his, and just took it without paying attention. Such things can happen to unobservant people.

    Don't hold this incident against him; it's nothing personal, and you shouldn't let something like this get in the way of a perfectly adequate neighbor/neighbor relationship. Be content in the fact that he probably feels like a shmuck for pilfering your lid.

    This blog makes me happy. :)

  2. Inman Wheelright13 June, 2008 09:52

    I agree that is was nothing personal, but I think it was selfish as well. You still might rescue his next neglected package, just because it is the right thing to do...it's hard to be nice to people that don't deserve it, but it's still better to be nice than mean.

    Or you could custom paint your can and lid with orange paint so that it says 165A all over it in a way that is completely unmissable and reveals that you are on to him and his nefarious ways.