Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tales From The Garbage Collector

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"How come you got a baby and you didn't tell me?" My garbage collector asked me the other day. "How did you know?" I asked. "I am your garbage collector", he retorted. Ala! Had I missed the memo? I wondered to myself...

I tend to keep to myself. To mind my own business. To lead a quiet life. You can say am a bit snobbish but am not anti-social neither am I arrogant or rude. I will say hi to people, like the gate man, the shop keeper, the mama mboga, the taxi man, the butcher man and the garbage guy. I will also engage in small talk when they are serving me, but nothing elaborate, nothing personal.

So, I found it a little intruding when the garbage guy demanded to know why I had not informed him of the new development. He says he actually felt cheated to have to discover that for himself. To find the evidence in the garbage bag.

The garbage collectors knows so much about people, more than we want to imagine. Apparently, he is the person who ends up with the evidence of our lives. He knows the kind of lifestyle a family leads. He know their attitudes, their preferences, and he has the incriminating specimens as well as the treasured lessons from each family.

As we engaged in this conversation I sought to know the kind of family we are, based on our garbage bag. I was surprised at his 3 major findings:

  1. We hardly waste food. He had noted that we hardly have left overs stuck in the garbage and he wondered why. I was a bit shocked by that revelation but again it reveals who we are... a finishing generation. We eat it all. And again, economy imekuwa tight. Apparently he had noticed that very many families still waste a lot of food.
  2. He never gets paper bags and plastics which are his highly sought after treasures. Thinking about it, we collects plastic bags and plastic bottles keep them. Then when we get a visitor who would benefit from such, we give them. 
  3. I am the one who removes garbage. I laughed at this one. I can't remember my wife and I agreeing that I am the one to be removing the garbage, but that is a role I have played all along. 
This conversation taught me so many things about people and mostly about ourselves. That as much as we may not be close to people as we think, there is so much we can learn and teach just through observation. And there is so much our garbage bag can tell about us, more than we would be willing to expose. I was tempted to ask about other people, but then I remembered that is wrong and curiosity killed the cat. Maybe I should volunteer for a month in our estate and I will have a story about my neighbors. 

My garbage having had collected our garbage for more than 3 years, had made such a connection with us. A connection that I had no idea. He considered us family, and unfortunately to us, he was just a garbage guy. What a revelation. 

What does the content in your garbage bag say about you?


  1. You can easily tell what kind of life a certain family leads by looking at their garbage. This is one of the reasons why some garbage collectors know something about your life. They might know what you had eaten or used in the past weeks from the trash they see coming from you. It is true that you can learn so much from observing people and their actions, not to mention the results of those actions. That's certainly an enlightening experience.

    1. Its unbelievable how naked we are inside our garbage bags.. Thanks for passing by.