So last week was Christmas.
Our street–nay, the entire Grand Duchy–was deserted as residents fled for the slopes or warmer climes.
We opened presents at home on Christmas morning (Sunday), generating the usual excess of wrapping paper and packaging.
It languished in the living room most of the day and part of the next (Monday).
Tuesday is Garbage Collection Day Chez Beet. So on Monday, I started thinking about taking out all the Christmas garbage.
Alas, our poubelle was already full.
But along our abandoned street, residents had taken their trashcans out to the sidewalk days ago before departing to the slopes and warmer climes.
“When it gets dark, I’m going to put this wrapping paper in the neighbors’ poubelle,” I announce to The Spouse.
“Are you sure that’s such a good idea?” he asks me.
“Look,” I say. “They are all away for the holidays. They knew they would be gone through Garbage Day–that’s why they all put their trashcans out on the sidewalk before they left.”
I gesture to our street which is devoid of cars, but has a trashcan on the sidewalk in front of every shuttered home. It is a burglar’s fantasy.
“I still don’t think it is a good idea,” says The Spouse. “But do what you want.”
So Monday, as soon as it gets dark (which is about 4:30 p.m.), I took two shopping bags full of wrapping paper across the street and stuffed it into the neighbors’ half-empty trashcan.
-THREE HOURS LATER-
While clearing the dishes, I realize that the neighbors’ lights are on and their car is back.
Cue sinking feeling in pit of stomach.
-TUESDAY MORNING, EARLY-
Upon returning from my early-morning grocery store run, I note that the Garbage Men have not yet come.
Worse, I realize that the neighbors have ADDED to their trash can.
I run upstairs, write a contrite note using Google Translate that I then copy into a holiday card which I tuck beneath a bottle of crémant and leave on their front porch.
“What happened?” The Spouse asks upon my breathless return.
“You came running in and went straight to the computer,” he points out. “You didn’t even put away the groceries.”
“Neighbors are back,” I confess. “And they have ADDED to their trash can!”
“I TOLD you so,” The Spouse sighs. “What IS it with you and the garbage?”
Delayed by the Christmas holiday, the trashcans sit on the sidewalk, overflowing and mocking me, until Wednesday. Ashamed, I am unable to take any additional trash out of my house until then, even though my kitchen can is now ripe and stinking with Christmas turkey carcass. Not that I have room anyhow . . .
-FLASH FORWARD TO THURSDAY, DECEMBER 29-
I am in the kitchen, working on dinner, when the doorbell rings. Skittles answers it, and I hear a discussion between her and an unidentified French-speaking man.
I hear the word “poubelle.”
My blood runs cold. I ignore the conversation, leaving Skittles defenseless with what must surely be The Neighbor.
“MOM!!” she finally yells to me. “There’s a man here about the poubelle!”
My stomach churns.
I wipe my hands and round the corner to the front door where I see . . .
Uniformed Garbage Collection Dude!
“I’m here to wish you a Happy New Year!” he tells me.
I have never in my life been happier or quicker to distribute a Christmas tip.
And I think Garbage Collecting Dude was not expecting a bise with it, either.