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deja-vu re-enactment

The other day, Handyman and I had a no-show at this client’s house and no one answered any of the phone numbers we had, so we left a note on the front door (as we tend to do, saying “Sorry we missed you, call ###-#### if you still need your junk removed” or something like that) and headed to our next job.  Just before we got back on the freeway, the client finally called and told us we had the wrong address.  So we turned back around and headed back to where we just were.  The place where we turned around was exactly where we had gotten off the freeway to begin our route to the client’s house, and we got stopped by the first light we came to in exactly the same position in the left-turn lane.  As we crept to a halt, I said “Whoa, deja vu.” Though stupid, this was supposed to be somewhat of a joke, since it was obvious that we had just been there fifteen minutes earlier.  But it was also intended simply to note the coincidence of our being stopped at the same exact place as before.  Handyman gave an obligatory chuckle.  Then, for a moment, we imagined out loud a sort of Groundhog-Day like scenario where we had to relive the same moment again and again.  The light turned green, and as we rounded out the turn, a new game was born.

Credit goes to Handyman for inventing this magical game.  See, there was this bowling alley just past the light where we’d stopped.  The first time around, Handyman had noticed the new paint job and said “Whoa, they painted the bowling alley!”  I noticed that some of the signage was still orange and black, the official colors of the local High School.  “Used to be school colors?” I asked.  “Yep,” Handyman replied, “Town pride or whatever.”

Well, the second time around, Mark noticed the bowling alley again. As a joke, after our deja-vu conversation, he said: “Whoa, they painted the bowling alley!”  I waited for a second, then responded: “Used to be official school colors?”  Another pause, then he: “Yep. Town pride or whatever.”

The rest of the way down the road, we did an almost word-for-word re-enactment of our first trip from the stop light to the client’s house.  Our memories were aided by the successive reappearance on the side of the road of each of the landmarks that sparked our original conversations: the bowling alley, a car dealership, an overpass.  At first it was amusing.  Then hilarious.  Then it got creepy. Handyman laughed that half-fake kind of laugh that serves to terminate a joke, as if to say, “okay, that joke was funny, but now it’s gotten awkward and I don’t want to continue with it”.  But I wasn’t about to let such an interesting experiment end.  And it was a fun test of our memories to see if we could keep it going all the way back to the client’s street.  So I pushed it further, and Handyman responded with impressive powers of recollection.

And what was interesting about this game was inextricable from its creepiness, awkwardness.  That sense of being removed from the self you were fifteen minutes ago and having to act out what only then were genuine thoughts, feelings, conversations.  Now they seemed contrived, foreign, robotic.  The person who’d said the things I’d said seemed more than fifteen minutes less experienced than I was now.  That little bit of distance was enough to observe the silly pragmatics of our conversations, the turn-taking and the starts and stops, and make it seem as if the first time around was just as much a charade as the second.  What we had thought were a few real moments of our lives, now seemed empty and formulaic, and not at all how we’d remembered. And even after the short passing of only fifteen minutes, no true reliving could ever occur. We were already lifetimes away from the persons we used to be. To feel it was a kind of ecstasy, a being out-of-body.  This game was strange and terrible, and I couldn’t resist it.

Or at least that’s how I felt, if only for a fifteen minutes, before we arrived at the house and had to get out of the truck to greet the waiting client and do our job.  Thanks, Handyman, for summoning the spirit of my old gaming partner The Edge and playing along for such a long time.

Hydraulic Doorclose

There are different variations of this game, depending on the specifics of each dumping scenario. But the basic version has the passenger starting from inside the truck while the driver pushes the button that starts lowering the box from its fully inclined position. The passenger then gets out and attempts to shut and latch the rear doors of the box and get back into the truck and shut the door before the box gets all the way down to its level position. (The squealing sound that accompanies the box’s reaching its level position makes this easy to judge.) There are safety issues with this game, and we do not recommend it for new haulers.

Glove Golf

Glove Golf is usually played in a parking lot or driveway while waiting for a customer to arrive when there’s not enough time for something productive to be done. Each crew member stands and throws his glove into the air, above a certain agreed-upon height. Wherever it lands, he must count the number of normal steps it takes to get there and add that number to his score. Take turns and the one who has the lowest score when you stop wins.

Have We Moved?

While the passenger in the truck closes his eyes, the driver lets his foot off the brake ever so slightly – so that the truck may barely idle or may just rumble a bit and seem to move – and the passenger is then asked, “Have we moved?” This is repeated until it gets boring – usually pretty quickly. Good for new trainees though. (This game works on the honor system; the passenger has to actually close his eyes and the driver has to tell the truth.)

give and you shall recieve


There is a sort of karma at work when it comes to finding treasures on the job. If you are too eager in expecting to find something good, you almost surely will not. The Wastemakers will see to it that your jinx is enforced. But if you give much to the Wastestream and are not too covetous with the things you pluck from it, you will be rewarded with treasures aplenty. Furthermore, if you give something away to a fellow Hauler, that Hauler – as a fellow devotee of the Wastemakers – will surely give back to you when given the chance. Thusly does the Wastestream keep its delicate balance.

When there is a dispute, and two or more Haulers want to keep the same thing, what we usually do is search for what we officially and unimaginatively call a “compelling reason”. Almost always there will be some detail about one person’s situation that makes it make more sense for them to have whatever it is they’re fighting over. And if open, honest discussion fails to tease out any compelling reason, our officially sanctioned final dispute settler is always Rochambeau, better known here in Anytown as Rock-Paper-Scissors. And always in its pure form: best two out of three lightning rounds.

Theme of the Day

Part II in the ‘Cosmology of Waste’ series: THEME OF THE DAY
(Part I was Wastemakers in the Sky.)

Whenever we’re out hauling, there is always a Theme to be discovered. We discover it by noticing something at least three times during the course of the day. The same things or things that relate to each other in some way that requires figuring out.

Oftentimes there will be two different things that have each happened twice and could happen again to become the official Theme. In such cases we declare “Competing Themes” and keep our minds open for a more evidence one way or the other.

I wish I could give examples of some of the themes we’ve had in the past, but it is the nature of themes that they’re hard to remember. That’s part of the reason we started this blog. Some themes are simple and somewhat pedestrian; others remarkably complex and unpredictable.

If you try too hard to figure out a Theme, you will inevitably fail. Invented themes will always seem labored and artificial. True themes cannot be invented, only discovered – revealed by the Wastemakers. And true revelation affords a definite sense of favor with the Makers, of being specially chosen to play a part in – and witness the wisdom of – their mysterious designs.

the incredible 150 foot slide

It’s winter here in Anytown. Over the last few weeks, The Edge, without really trying, has been wowing me during walks up clients’ driveways with his incredible ice-sliding ability. No doubt he is just trying to amuse himself during the duller of those cold trudges. But the other day when we did a job at a house on a hill with a 150-ft long driveway, my challenge to the Edge was irresistable:



The Haulympics is a hypothetical game that we’ve never really played.  There are many different tasks we have to perform and skills to acquire, tricks, flourishes, etc.  It’s fun sometimes to daydream about the staging of a huge exhibition for all these things, where haulers from all corner of the Earth got together in a show of hauling ability…the Haulympics.  The Edge would take gold in the bag-tossing competition.  I myself would be pretty competitive in the freestyle dolly-maneuvering event, I like to think.  Bosun (who has yet to write a post here) would surely medal in Smooth-talking the Client, and Flores would leave his name in the Truck Racing recordbooks.  It would be grand.

Couchfoot Screwoff

[This is the first in a series of posts I plan to write about the games we play to keep things interesting and help those long days go by…]

The name of this one says it all. I’ve been playing this game against my coworkers for longer than any of them probably know, but the other day it was made official when The Edge and I went head to head right there in a client’s living room as she stood watching (and wondering who would win, maybe silently judging our unprofessionalism, or maybe being won over by the cuteness of it).

Anyway it’s quite simple. When a couch needs to be turned on its back and the feet screwed off (most cheap couches have unscrewable feet) this game pretty much begs to be played, since the hauler who was holding either end of the couch is now tasked with unscrewing the two feet on his side, directly across from his partner who’s doing the same. There being a top foot and then a clear midpoint to the race as each participant makes his way to the bottom foot – the natural progression, top-to-bottom – makes this game very exciting.

In case you’re wondering, The Edge and I tied that day on a technicality: he finished screwing the feet off first, but the hole where his bottom foot went still had the screw jutting out of it.