I took my trash out. And if for some reason you don’t think that’s a big deal, you should have seen how friggin’ high I let it stack-up first, not wanting to venture into the icy and freezing world that Utah (and the rest of this continent) had been.

This all happened toward the end of last week. Or maybe it was Monday. I don’t know. My brain is mush because I’ve been working on some very brain-squashing-mind-obliterating projects. All I know is it stacked tall enough that I had no choice but to take it out, and it was still so cold outside that I could have frozen an egg on my butt cheeks. And who would want the egg then?

The wind was thrashing and whipping through the naked branches of the century-old trees standing tall across the fence. The sky was so dark, I wasn’t sure if it was dusk, or if we humans had successfully killed the daytime sun once and for all. My cheeks stung with stabbing pain the moment I left the coldness of the stairwell for the arctic freezing of the outside world. It was about 50 paces to the dumpsters, and I began tip toeing my way through nasty slush canyons. Each hand carried a large garbage sack. Under one arm were flattened Amazon boxes. Under the other arm were a couple pizza boxes, a half-eaten pizza and partially-gnawed breadsticks still inside.

For some reason, I thought flip flops would be suitable enough attire to take out the trash. But let’s not dwell on that.

There are two dumpsters at my apartment. The dumpster on the right is for recycling, and is there so that us city dwellers can always feel like good humans. The dumpster on the left is for trash, and us city dwellers try not to pay much attention to just how much waste we toss out.

There was a ridiculously oversized brand new black and really nice SUV parked in front of the non-feel-good dumpster. It was very out of place in downtown gated apartments like mine, where I am convinced I may have the only kid under ten years old living in the hundred or so units of my building. But there it was. Parked in front of the dumpster at a moment when only Eskimos and walruses should dare venture outdoors.

As I approached, I came upon a very bizarre scene. But before I describe it… I want you all to appreciate what an amazing human I am.

Friends… I recycled those boxes.

Don’t applaud. I’m barely a hero. I feel like my part was only as hard as tossing the boxes into… No, really… Stop clapping. Oh my God. A standing ovation? This is too much.

I told you my brain was mush.

Anyway, the scene I encountered as I tossed my boxes into the recycling dumpster and stood there like an idiot in ice-covered flip flops was one I will never want to forget.

I didn’t quite know what to do with the second bag of garbage that needed to go in the dumpster on the left, so I just stood there patiently with it, pretending I was not developing hypothermia. I couldn’t throw it in the dumpster because there was a man inside the dumpster violently doing something that I couldn’t see, and there was a brown-haired woman standing on tip toes at the edge of the dumpster watching and barking occasional instructions. She was wearing thin pink pajama pants, snow boots, and a thick parka.

“This is so disgusting. It’s all so wet,” the man said.

“How hard could it be to find our bag?” she replied. “You only put it in there two hours ago.”

“Half of these bags look like ours… Oh gross,” he said as he apparently ripped into a new sack. “This one is definitely not ours.”

“Yuck, what the hell, don’t touch that!” she snapped at him. “You’re so gross. Is that one ours right there?”

“No, I already checked that one.”

I just stood there. Watching.

She finally noticed me. “Sorry,” she said. “We’re just trying to find the TV remote that my husband apparently threw away.”

I shrugged. “No problem,” I said as two of my toes fell off.

Okay. That’s the end of my people watching adventure. I set my trash bag down and asked if she’d mind throwing it in when they were done. She was nice enough to oblige. But…

Under what circumstances, especially when you’re driving a car that probably cost sixty or seventy grand, is tossing out a television remote ever going to be worth… that?

At what point do people somehow not gaze out the window and say, “look! There’s a frozen mailman out there, let’s just chalk this up to an unfortunate loss and order a new one.”

When should a human being say, “I am NOT going to pick up whatever disgusting thing just fell out of this trash bag in the name of a replaceable gadget.”

On a day like that, I think I could have accidentally thrown a safe full of cash into that dumpster and decided it wasn’t worth finding.

But, hey. People are weirdos. One man’s trash is another man’s remote control.

And now that I think about it… Is he really a man at all, if he could accidentally throw away the one thing that has made man so man since the invention of remote controls?

I don’t know, but hey. Did I mention I am a recycler? We’re all supposed to point crap like that out as often as possible, right?

Dan Pearce