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Stealing Her Recycling - A Snapshot of Life

(My blog is not only about funny parts of my life but also where I feature my short stories. This short story was inspired by real events but I’ve protected the name of the guilty.)

"I am calling the cops," she yelled over her shoulder. Her fingers holding open the blinds as she peaked through the slats. "It's theft. They're stealing people's property" she informed him.

He pulled his gaze away from the TV screen toward his wife who was standing in front of the big Bay window in their front room. He knew better than to argue with her once she got something into her mind.

"If I see them doing it next week, I am calling the cops." She pulled her fingers away from the blinds and walked back to the TV room. Her husband was in between watching his favourite show and snoozing during the commercials. "It really bugs me to see them getting away with it." He nodded in agreement although he never really heard what she said. "You're not even listening to me!" she yelled. He jolted awake. "I am listening. I am listening. You're calling the police."

"It is theft you know. People put their recycling out every week thinking the City garbage people are picking it up. They don't realize that those thieves are going around after dark taking the bottles and turning them in for money. I've seen them do it several times now."

"It's not really theft dear. People are throwing it out. It's just garbage. Who cares as long as someone takes it."

"Who cares?" she screamed at him. "Everyone cares! People go through a lot of trouble to sort their recycling and put it out. They wouldn't do it if they knew someone was stealing it and profiting from it."

"People don't really care" he sighed. "I am going to bed. I am exhausted and I have to get up early." He pulled himself out of his recliner and staggered to the bedroom. She sat back on the couch fuming. "He has no backbone that's the problem" she thought. This was clearly an issue she would take on by herself.

The next morning she stood in the big Bay window watching her husband pull out of the driveway. She sipped her coffee while peering through the open blinds. She heard the screen door of the next door neighbour's house slam close and saw her walking to the end of the driveway holding two full green garbage bags. She slammed her cup on the coffee table, spilling some of its contents over the table. She didn't take notice. She ran to the front door, grabbed the two blue bags of recycling, opened the door and quickly walked to the end of the driveway. She anxiously darted her eyes over toward the house next door hoping to see her neighbour. The screen door opened again and the neighbour came out holding two blue recycling bags full of plastic bottles.

"Good morning!" she called and the startled neighbour looked up and smiled. "Good morning" she called back. She wasn't losing this opportunity and broke into a jog toward the neighbour as if she had important news to share.

"Do you put out much recycling?" She inquired. "Not a lot" the neighbour responded. "Well, I just thought you should know that someone has been stealing the recycling bottles from our neighbourhood. I wrote down his licence plate number and I am going to call the police if I seem him again. You can't trust these people you know" she spoke like an expert on the subject.

The neighbour looked at her watch making it known she was on a time limit and had to get to work. She couldn't help but ask, "These people? Which people?"

She looked across the carefully manicured lawn and knew exactly what people she was talking about. People like she used to be growing up. Poor people.

"Well, he drives a beat up old pick up truck. I think it's dark blue or black. I'll find out for sure next week because I'll take a picture to show the police."

"The police?" the neighbour inquired. "Yes. It's theft" she informed her. "Don't you think the police have more important things to do?" She cocked her head to one side like a dog. "No, I don't. That's what they are there for. To protect our neighbourhoods. These people are turning that recycling in and making money off it."

The neighbour lifted her full blue bag of plastic bottles. "This whole bag wouldn't get you $2.00." Then she remembered something. "He's not stealing. The lady across the street knows him. He collects the bottles in the night time because he works during the day at Canadian Tire or Walmart or somewhere like that. He brings them to the recycling depot because he has a daughter who has a physical disability. I can't remember what kind but anyway, he is saving for a wheel chair for her."

"That's what government is for! He shouldn't be stealing from us." The neighbour was stunned. "It's stuff we throw out. He's trying to help his child the only way he knows how."

She locked eyes with her neighbour. "Stealing from us is the only way he knows how? That's why I don't want those kinds of people going around our neighbourhood at night when we are sleeping."

"Do you mean poor people or disabled people?" The neighbour challenged her. "You've obviously never been poor. If you have nothing better to do with your life than peek out through your blinds and spy on your neighbourhood maybe you should find something productive to fill your life with."

She was appalled. How dare the neighbour talk to her like that. She had lived on this street for almost 30 years. She had seen four families live in the house next door. Each one more obnoxious than the last.

"I knew when I saw you moving in that you were no better than that crowd of hoodlums that moved out" she stomped toward her front door. This would upset her whole day. Maybe her whole week. She began to grind her teeth thinking if her husband had supported her on this issue last night she wouldn't be having this conversation with the neighbour.

She decided he would hear about it tonight.

"Maybe you feel sorry for those people but I don't" she yelled over her shoulder at her neighbour.

"Maybe you should look at those people and say ‘There but for the Grace of God go I’" the neighbour yelled back.

Imagine bringing God up to her she thought. Sure she ran the church. She was there every week giving money and her valuable time. Not too much though because you know it's never enough for those people. They always wanted more.

Besides they never once thanked her in the Sunday bulletin for all the good work she does. She decided then and there to call the Church secretary that day and complain.

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