By Tracy Beckerman
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For me, one of the joys of city living was the garbage chute.
Yes, it doesn’t take much to make me happy.
For the uninitiated, the garbage chute is the place in your building where you toss your garbage and watch as it disappears into some garbage black hole so that it can be whisked away to Garbage Land without you ever having to set foot on the pavement outside. And since it is typically right down the hall instead of outside, you could sneak down the hall in your bathrobe to take the garbage out and no one would be the wiser.
Of course, while this is good in theory, nine times out of 10, you will run into a neighbor in your building while you are furtively taking out the garbage in your bathrobe. This actually happened to me so many times that the other tenants started calling me “The Bathrobe Lady in 309.” Although it was a career builder for Hugh Hefner, it wasn’t actually a pseudonym I was particularly proud of, especially when they started referring to my family as, “Husband of the Bathrobe Lady in 309” and, “Baby of Bathrobe Lady in 309.”
Eventually it became almost impossible to have anyone in the building call us by our actual names, so we did the logical thing. We moved.
When we got to the suburbs, I realized the whole garbage routine was vastly different. While I was thrilled to discover that we had multiple cans outside our backdoor for our garbage, I was less happy to learn that we were responsible for getting those cans down to the end of our driveway ourselves. We lived in a somewhat rural part of the suburbs which meant I would have to travel over 300 feet in my bathrobe to get the cans to the corner, and the chances of being seen in my bathrobe were exponentially greater than they had been even in the city. Hence I was certain to become, “The Bathrobe Lady of Suburbia” in no time.
Wanting to make a good first impression on my new suburban neighbors, I decided to be a grown-up and put on actual clothing to take the garbage out. But my plan was soon derailed by the fact that garbage pickup happened at the ungodly hour of6:45am when most people, myself included, were still in their jammies. And since I almost always forgot when it was garbage day, I would invariably be awakened by the sound of the trucks on the street, forcing me to jump out of bed, throw on my bathrobe, and bolt down the driveway with the cans, waving and screaming like a mad woman at the guys in the truck in order to catch their attention before they left.
Needless to say, I looked far more like a nut job than I ever had in the city.
This being the gossip-loving suburbs, I was concerned that word would spread pretty quickly about my garbage day attire, and I knew it was just a matter of time before the mailman would start delivering letters addressed to “The Bathrobe Lady of Suburbia.” But no matter how hard I tried, I could not remember to take the garbage out the night before, or get up early enough to put on clothes and take the garbage out before the trucks arrived in the morning.
I tried post-its and alarms and strings around my finger but nothing worked. Desperate to salvage my reputation, I finally wised up and settled on the perfect way to deal with the problem of taking out the garbage.
I made my husband do it.
Follow Tracy on Twitter at @TracyinSuburbia.