Garbage

I have done it! Yes! I have officially become a resident of Taipei!

How, you ask, did Rob accomplish this?

I have…dumped garbage!

Before you laugh, I must relate to you the ordeal which is getting rid of your trash in Taipei. (Then you can laugh…)

Thus far, each weekend when I make a trip to Connie’s I have taken my trash (appropriately separated for ecological quality under penalty of death by girlfriend) with me and it’s gone out with Connie’s family’s weekly garbage. But, it was determined recently that I should handle my own trash from now on since Connie got tired of carrying the garbage on the bus. (Appropriately hidden inside innocuous looking shopping bags, of course!)

So, with this in mind, I stored up my garbage for the past two weeks, and tonight once I got home I quickly assembled the bags and set out on a quest for the garbage truck.

For you see, in Taipei, getting your garbage out is something between a community event and a sport. The Garbage truck (and accompanying recycling truck) moves between designated community drop-off points wherein the locals must rendezvous with the truck and get their garbage to the truck before the truck leaves to move on to the next spot. This is not as easy as it sounds, not only is the time the truck will be there limited and somewhat imprecise, each pick-up point serves an area which can be up to several square kilometers in size.

So, tonight when I set off in search of the legendary drop off point, I actually had only a vague idea of where to go coupled with hope that I could make it in time. After 5 minutes of winding my way through my local streets I found signs of the truck; locals carrying the required clear plastic bags with their coupons to pay for said garbage firmly attached. Following the locals I found myself among an ever growing mass of people, those going to the garbage dropoff and those returning stopping to talk to their neighbours.

Eventually, the trucks with their flashing lights came into view around a corner, and I nervously moved with the masses towards the lights. I wondered, did I separate enough? Would I be nailed for having left one or two plastic bags inside my garbage? (I’m a sinner…I confess…) I had even left my recyclables at home, deciding that they would be dealt with on my next trip: basic garbage was a difficult enough task to worry about dealing with leftover cartons of papaya milk!

Finally it was my turn.

I stepped forward. The man at the back of the truck looked at me as I tried not to look at him, praying for no comments or awkward situations. I tossed my trash in with the others, and then quick as I could I slipped away, affording only a glance back to see if anyone had seen my crime. But none had! I was a free man. And, giddy with the thought of what I had just accomplished I strode off past the gathered people; proud that I too was now capable of doing that thing which truly makes one a resident of a city…dumping my own trash!

Rob