In some way, shape or form we have been, are and will continue to be.
Go ahead and use that if you wish. It came to me as I was on my way to invest in a new lawn mower. What a profound truck driving moment. After killing off the last of our vintage lawn mowers, I decided to go get another one. The grass out back was getting to the point where I thought I might loose the dog. I never had a mower with a bagger attachment before. I found out rather quickly that once that sucker fills up with grass clippings it gets harder to push.
Perhaps my straining was partially due to the fact that while I was mowing the now-jungle-that-once-was-our-yard I was also inhaling the garbage smoke from the neighbor’s burning barrel. Yeah, burning barrel. In town. What? That was my thought too. Years ago we lived in a small town where everyone had a burning barrel somewhere in their back yard. Usually, it was a steel 55 gallon drum. As a kid, it was a wonderful experience to get to go out and burn the trash. It was the only time I ever had a free pass to play with fire (the other times I played with fire, I did not have a free pass and usually got into trouble). So there you were, watching how stuff melted, looking at the shapes of the flames, making sparks. Sometimes you could take a stick and ignite the end… then put it out and whip the glowing ember around to make shapes. You found out that batteries explode. Later in life when you live in the country and continue to burn shit, you find that 22 shells that fell out of your pocket and into that old recliner you just ignited would come back to haunt you.
So… the neighbor has a burning barrel. Burning in town – I’m pretty sure that is out otherwise everyone would still have a barrel in their yard. I’m pretty sure that the other neighbors with “fire pits” don’t always just burn wood in there but at least it is not so obvious. I did not mind much until I saw the pile of garbage bags lined up. The neighbor’s wife was mowing the lawn as well and would throw more crap into the fire each time she made a pass. One of their small children was also running around in the yard… fire and mower all in close vicinity.
Since my new mower fills the bagger up with grass clippings, I must stop to unload it once in a while (about a dozen times). At one unloading, the husband (young guy and I am assuming husband… perhaps just a dude) came over to their barrel to throw more burnable toxic waste into it. I made eye contact with him and said “I did not think we were able to burn in town like that anymore.” He responded with one of my most very favorite of all knowing, this answers everything types of responses: “I was told that I could do this if I put it here.”
You were told? Who in the hell told you that? Your landlord? Some other dick from down the block? Did it come to you in a dream? No, I did not ask. In fact, he followed up his statement with “I should probably check it out.” I told him I thought that would be a great idea and then went back to mowing. He continued to burn the rest of his smoky shit and then when the plume started to look like a volcanic eruption he placed a lid on the can, sort of snuffing it.
In the end, the mower worked fine. I knocked the jungle back into something that looks like a back yard just in time for it to start raining this evening. I think I also came a little closer to becoming that grumpy old guy who lives next door. My Walt Kowalski moment.