Bribery and Garbage

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It was Sunday morning, and I guess the people in the two cars that pulled into the parking lot were on their way home.

Where can we dump this? the driver of the first car asked me.

Dump what? I asked, genuinely confused.

He gestured to his back seat. I peered in through the heavily tinted back windows and saw two large, black garbage bags taking up most of the small car’s back seat.

I told the man he should have left the garbage where he’d been camping. He shrugged. Either he’d been camping at the free campground where the Forest Service doesn’t provide trash cans because they don’t want to have to haul trash away, or he’d been staying at a cabin where the rental agreement stipulated all garbage had to be removed upon departure.

The three trash cans in the parking lot are metal and are stamped “32 gallon” on the lid. (Think about Oscar the Grouch, and that’s the size of our cans.) I told the man the cans in the parking lot aren’t intended as a depository for large bags containing a weekend’s worth of garbage.

Personally, I don’t mind if people fill the cans in the parking lot with all the trash from their weekend getaway. I’d rather people put their garbage in our cans than leave it on the side of the road. My boss, however, is adamant about not paying to have extra trash removed. He doesn’t want people who’ve camped elsewhere coming into to our campgrounds to dispose of their rubbish in our trash cans or dumpsters, and he doesn’t want people dumping a whole weekend’s worth of trash in the parking lot cans. I try to follow his orders—he is the boss, after all—even when I think he’s being silly.

So I told the driver of the car he’d have to take his two large bags of trash home with him.

What if I gave you and extra $10? he asked me.

My boss wouldn’t like that very much, I told him.

What if I did it when you weren’t looking? he asked me.

Well, then you probably should dump it right before you leave and be quick, I told him. I didn’t think I was giving him permission. I thought I was telling him how to avoid having me know what he was doing if he insisted upon doing what I had told him was not ok.

He handed me a $20 bill. He wanted to pay his own parking fee and for his buddy in the car behind him. I gave him his day pass and trail guide and said I was going to get his change. He said I should keep the change. At that point, I knew nothing I could do was going to stop him from leaving the garbage.

Sure enough, soon after he drove off into the parking lot, I heard the rattling of a trash can’s lid from near the restrooms. When I looked over, the man was shoving the big sacks of trash into a can.

The fellow who picks up our garbage came by not long after the man had deposited his trash. He emptied our cans and took it all away before my boss could see the overflowing receptacles. Good timing!

I kept the man’s money, but I didn’t put it in my pocket. Instead, I put the money in my accordion file where I keep the day’s receipts and wrote out two day passes. I told the drivers of the next two cars that pulled into the parking lot that an anonymous benefactor had paid their parking fees. The drivers were excited and grateful to park for free.

The man with the trash thought he’d bribed me, but instead I used his money to be kind to strangers.

About Blaize Sun

My name is Blaize Sun. Maybe that's the name my family gave me; maybe it's not. In any case, that's the name I'm using here and now. I've been a rubber tramp for nearly a decade.I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. For most of my years on the road, my primary residence was my van. For almost half of the time I was a van dweller, I was going it alone. Now my (male) partner and I (a woman) have a travel trailer we can pull with our truck. We have a little piece of property, and when we're not traveling, we park our little camper there. I was a work camper in a remote National Forest recreation area on a mountain for four seasons. I was a camp host and parking lot attendant for two seasons and wrote a book about my experiences called Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. During the last two seasons as a work camper on that mountain, I was a clerk in a campground store. I'm also a house and pet sitter, and I pick up odd jobs when I can. I'm primarily a writer, but I also create beautiful little collages; hand make hemp jewelry and warm, colorful winter hats; and use my creative and artistic skills to decorate my life and brighten the lives of others. My goal (for my writing and my life) is to be real. I don't like fake, and I don't want to share fake. I want to share my authentic thoughts and feelings. I want to give others space and permission to share their authentic selves. Sometimes I think the best way to support others is to leave them alone and allow them to be. I am more than just a rubber tramp artist. I'm fat. I'm funny. I'm flawed. I try to be kind. I'm often grouchy. I am awed by the stars in the dark desert night. I hope my writing moves people. If my writing makes someone laugh or cry or feel angry or happy or troubled or comforted, I have done my job. If my writing makes someone think and question and try a little harder, I've done my job. If my writing opens a door for someone, changes a life, I have done my job well. I hope you enjoy my blog posts, my word and pictures, the work I've done to express myself in a way others will understand. I hope you appreciate the time and energy I put into each post. I hope you will click the like button each time you like what you have read. I hope you will share posts with the people in your life. I hope you'll leave a comment and share your authentic self with me and this blog's other readers. Thank you for reading.  A writer without readers is very sad indeed.

2 Responses »

  1. I wonder how long he was camped there> It takes me a long time to fill up one of those black bags at home, and I use a lot less when camping.

    That was nice how you used the money. It’s nice to hear of someone who doesn’t put money above everything else.

    • There were four adults in two cars.They’d probably camped for two nights, which is what most of my campers do, although some people come all the way the mountain for just one night. I didn’t see the trash, but I suspect the folks used disposable plates, cups, and utensils, which would fill up a bag fast, especially if they weren’t crushing things.

      A wise friend of mine says, Money is only important when you don’t have it.

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