So, before Christmas we had a major windstorm here. It lasted a couple of days with variable winds sometimes reaching hurricane force. Municipal services must carry on regardless and recycling day for our street fell smack in the middle of this typical west Coast winter typhoon. Yes, these details are important and shall be weaved together for the payoff momentarily.
Come the day for blue bins, I dutifully put ours at the curb that morning – it wasn’t particularly windy at that point, see reference above to ‘variable’. Our recycling truck comes by later in the day but, of course, the boiler plate is to have everything at the curb by 8:00 am.
I went out for some errands and returned home to see the recycling had not yet been picked up. So I carried on to lunch and the usual home chores. No need for detail, I’m sure you have sufficient imagination to conjure up the cycle of domestic bliss.
I do most of my puttering around the house while listening to podcasts so I was unaware of the increase in wind velocity outside until, at one point I took my headphones off to answer the phone. We have an old fashioned landline because a) I’m old fashioned that way and b) it seemed like a good idea to keep it ‘cause I don’t always hear my cell phone. Old fashioned and just plain old, I guess is the conclusion. After I’d politely told the persistent telemarketer to get stuffed, I heard the recycle truck doing its thing.
I returned to whatever it was I’d been doing and after a few more minutes realized the windows were rattling and the wind was hurling itself against the house.
That was when I remembered our blue bin was sitting empty in this blasting wind. I hurried outside, saw a few of the neighbor’s bins bouncing down the street and ours was gone…just gone. I stood at the bottom of the driveway in the vain hope of seeing it up against somebody’s fence or hedge or up a tree.
The next week I made detour to the CRD’s recycling contractor who supplies replacement bins and came home with a shiny new blue bin and two blue bags (which had been lost over the years with greater frequency due to windstorms, or so I assumed at the time). This is a rainy place and the blue bags, being heavy duty plastic, are perfect for keeping the paper items from turning into papier-mâché base before the truck comes by. All blue items are now free, courtesy of municipal largesse and your tax dollars at work.
Fast forward to two weeks ago. The recycle lad always stuffs the empty bag into the empty bin and turns it upside down to prevent escape. As I lifted the bin I could see the bag was not one of the shiny new ones recently acquired but a very sad, old war horse of a bag. One handle was torn through and most of the printing was nearly worn off. The bag was not a deep blue any more but faded to a stone washed chino colour. And not in an attractive way.
I thought perhaps the bin boy had accidently held on to this bag from further up the road and put it in my box by mistake. No biggie. It hadn’t cost me anything and I still had another new one inside the house when this poor thing finally packed it in.
Yesterday, I went to bring in the empty bin and wondered if the green fairies would have put my new bag back in place. Nope. Still the same old bag but it was sitting under an older blue bin. How do I know it was an old bin? Because it was a lighter blue from having sat in the sunshine of a few summer; it was slightly different dimensions and, there, in very faded magic marker, was our house address which we had written on it way back when the program began.
Back when one had to pay for replacement bins.
I don’t even remember when this one went walkabout, just that we had an extra blue box from some community fair give away which was then pressed into service. That 2nd box was the one lost in the windstorm just before Christmas.
Keeping track so far? There are 3 blue bins: one lost before Christmas, one lost in the mists of time and one ‘lost’ just yesterday.
It was apparent to me at this point one of our neighbors acquired the original bin ‘lo those many years ago. I’m not going to claim this was with larcenous intent because it could have landed in their yard as a windfall.
Over the next few years it would seem someone was also helping themselves to new blue bags as they became available because I had been to the supplier frequently over the years for more of the bags.
Again, assumed attrition through wind redistribution.
I came to the conclusion there was no chance involved. The swap of old bag for new had to be a deliberate action because the community service chain gang always place the empty bag under the empty bin before driving away.
Therefore, this neighbor had to tippy toe over to my bin, lift it up, quickly remove the new bag and replace it this time out of some sense of guilt, perhaps?, with an old one they had brought with them.
This, m’lud, speaks to intent, planning and opportunity.
We may now surmise that this week, yesterday to be specific, the same neighbor, seeing part 1 of the plan had gone well with no raising of a hue and/or cry over the swapping of the bags, crept over under the cover of broad daylight with the bin they had pinched some years back and swapped it for the shiny new one.
Now I’m not outraged by any of this. Amused, yes and definitely puzzled. These bins are free. As mentioned before, when the program began, there was a charge to replace them but not anymore. There is no need whatsoever to steal or engage in magpie like behavior replacing something new and shiny with an old object that’s almost the same. Like leaving a bottle cap for a gold ring.
The other thing that puzzles me is that whoever did this has to know my routine sufficiently to make these switches when I am out on errands or curling or just not looking out the window.
And they have done so before.
Over an extended period of time.
Maybe I’ll put up a sign on the curb:
“If you need another blue bag or bin just ask”
Pass the strawberries*
*If you’ve never seen the Caine Mutiny go directly to whatever streaming service you have and watch it. Now.