My turn

In a world of creators and maintainers, I follow the rules

2013-07-14T00:00:00Z In a world of creators and maintainers, I follow the rulesBy Bill Vargo Times Columnist
July 14, 2013 12:00 am  • 

“There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who believe there are two kinds of people in this world and those who are smart enough to know better.”

~ Tom Robbins, from "Still Life with Woodpecker"

Labeling and categorization is how we go about organizing ourselves and finding a way to measure up, if you will. I come from a mixed breed of worriers and those who simply don’t worry about much of anything. There are those who create and those who take care of things - maintainers.

I fit in the latter category. Sure, there are things that I can build, like simple garden borders and a mail box post. I am not up to the task when it comes to the more complicated projects that require reading instructions and using multiple power tools.

I have always fit nicely into the "maintainer" category. Tom Robbins would say that I don’t know any better, ah, but I do.

Case in point, when I was a kid my mom assigned me the task of taking out the garbage every day. In those days, Griffith had a crew that picked up your garbage on a designated day of the week. You could take the trash out at around 8 or 9  in the morning and that would ensure that you were good for the week.

On one occasion during the summer, I overslept and didn’t get out of bed that morning until much closer to 10 a.m. To make a long story short, I looked out my bedroom window to see the garbage truck heading in the opposite direction, having already passed our house, sans our garbage cans.

My sisters will tell you that I lost my temper and yelled something out the window. Don’t believe them; I would never do that.

Forty years later, I am still in charge of this task and have yet to miss a garbage day. Long gone are the days when we stuffed a garbage bag to overflowing. There might be paint cans, small appliances, newspapers, or glass bottles – except those we could take to the store to redeem for a little pocket money back.

I was part of that first generation of kids that hounded their parents to recycle aluminum and steel cans, as well as newspapers and plastic. In Griffith, back in the early 1990s, there was a recycling drop-off at Tot Park for those who lived in apartments.

We dutifully sorted and rewarded ourselves with a dozen donuts every Saturday. Today, we have a new lesson to learn in Highland.

For those with curbside pickup, the instructions are fairly simple; put your new container at the curb with the wheels facing your home, since the new trucks pick up the cans with large mechanical arms. Gone are the truck jockeys ready to attack a pile of trash.

The new guidelines state simply that unless you have a large item to be disposed of, all trash must be included in the town-supplied container, including grass clippings and yard waste. It would certainly be a lot easier and more eco-friendly to simply leave the clippings on the grass; you have much more room for the rest of your trash.

I, for one, follow the rules – I learned my lesson and carry the burden of family legend to prove it.

The opinions are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at

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