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D. John Bray: West Seneca neighbors are talking trash

The Town of West Seneca presented its residents with two gifts recently. A 95-gallon and a 65-gallon heavy-duty polyurethane garbage tote for each home. No charge; they were delivered one weekend morning without fanfare, with an instruction sheet attached, and suddenly we all had totes. One with a blue-colored lid and one with a green lid.

The town apparently joined other communities in the “totes are coming to town” campaign.

They are, in their own way, attractive. The totes are royal blue, with flip-open tops, individual serial numbers, two wheels in the rear and even their own bar code.

If I were 10, my friends and I would have two of us in the big tote with two others pulling us down the street as fast as we could go. Great fun to a 10-year-old.

Now when garbage day rolls around, the blue totes, two by two, standing tall in front of each house, remind me of Dress Blues Inspection Day when I was in the Air Force.

What’s interesting is that the instruction sheet states where the tote is to be placed and what is allowed and not allowed to be in the tote. “All trash must fit in the tote” with, in capital letters, “LIDS CLOSED.” And if trash is placed in the recycling tote with recycling, the tote will not be picked up. “Totes must be at least four feet from obstructions.” Putting the garbage out now becomes a military exercise. First sergeants will soon appear enforcing this.

Now, these new totes are huge, standing just over 4 feet tall and more than 2 feet wide. Therein lies the problem.

Where am I going to get 160 gallons of garbage/recycling weekly with only two people living in the home? I feel obligated to fill these totes; after all, the town went to all this expense and I do not want to disappoint it with only a few gallons of garbage every week.

Obviously, this is a problem and it has suddenly been compounded by my neighbor Marty who lives across the street. He is a retired physical education teacher, played sports and is a great golfer, according to him – a regular competitive jock.

He started filling his garbage can to the top and then yelling over to me, “What’s the matter? Can’t fill it up anymore? Too old? Look at mine!”

Well, the gauntlet had been dropped. I began scouring my garage, attic, the backyard and empty fields for anything that could go into the tote so I could meet his challenge. I even increased my wine purchases and drinking so I could put the empty bottles in it.

The neighbors started, too. All of a sudden, empty cardboard boxes, still in their full size, were sticking out of the tops of the tote, which is a violation of the “all lids must be closed” directive. A penalty should be called because these boxes are not folded compactly. Garbage tote referees are going to be needed.

Being clever, I decided to make a surreptitious trip to the local dump to supplement my garbage stash. I’d show my neighbor.

As I gathered other people’s garbage, who did I see at the next pile but my good neighbor Marty doing the same thing?

Calling a truce, we decided to collaborate to wipe out the competition by becoming a team, each purchasing an additional tote and filling it up along with our other totes. We call ourselves “the trash tokers.”