Landfills on Wheels
Clutter finds a home in a car.
A few years ago, I was driving down State Road. In the distance, I saw red and blue lights belonging to a couple of police cars flashing.
The police were at the scene of an accident. A van lay on its side in the street. A tow truck had placed a winch on the van and was pulling it upright by the time I had driven closer. As the van was righted, a cascade of trash fell through the windows of the van to the street. Almost all of the trash was fast food wrappers, containers and cups.
Ironically, the driver of the van was turning into the McDonald's.
The traveling landfill on wheels easily could have belonged to my niece, Brittney.
I first saw her car when she offered to drive me to the high school so I could see a class project. The morning she was to pick me up, I stood in the living room watching for her. As soon as her car pulled into my driveway, I walked out the front door to her waiting car.
Brittney looked across the passenger's seat at me. The seat was filled with her Woodridge Bulldogs letterman's jacket; a gym bag with "Woodridge Bulldogs" emblazoned across the side; a back pack; a musical instrument case – a clarinet – I believe; a couple of empty plastic soda bottles; used napkins and a host of other unidentifiable items.
"Just a minute, auntie!" she yelled.
I watched in amazement as she threw the items carelessly into the back seat of the car where thousands of other things were piled. As Brittney tossed the last item – a scarf – into the backseat, I opened the door and plopped down onto the seat.
"My gosh, Brittney! What is all that stuff back there?" I asked.
"Oh, just stuff," she said as she threw the car into reverse and backed out of the driveway.
I turned my head and looked at the area behind her seat. The "stuff" in the back seat was level with the bottom of the window. I saw more empty plastic soda bottles, two coats, a high heel, a basketball, empty plastic shopping bags, a few pieces of 2 by 4s, a broken fish aquarium, three folding chairs, a pair of roller skates and fast food wrappers. Apparently, my niece has a penchant for Wendy's hamburgers.
"Do you have a permit to be operating a landfill?" I asked.
She laughed. I mentally calculated when I last had a tetanus shot.
A few miles down the road, I started to smell something that was a cross between a rotting banana, something dead and dirty gym clothes.
"What is that smell?" I questioned.
"Huh? Oh, sorry, I had the heat on," Brittney said, as she pushed the heater's dial down to the "off" position. "I think something fell into the vent, and whenever I run the heater, it smells."
I began to fear what creepy, crawly things she might have living in her car.
Fortunately, it was a short ride to the school. As soon as I got out of her car, I stood still to see if I could feel something crawling on me. I breathe a sigh of relief when I didn't feel anything moving on my body.
"You left your window open," I said, pointing to the driver's side door.
"I'm trying to get the smell out of my car," she explained.
And I hoped anything living in her car would want to leave the smell and the clutter of the car and escape through the opened window.