By one of those odd coincidences that plague the universe, and fuel our superstitions, I had scarcely finished reading this insightful article about externalisation written by my new virtual friend the OPM, (poetic licence – I actually read it a day or so earlier) when I received a phone call from an irate ratepayer of the Shire. The young lady transferring the call warned me he was angry, so I put on my best conciliatory tone. “Alan speaking. How can I help?” I need not have bothered. The minute he knew there was someone on the line he waded in both guns metaphorically blazing. I guessed he had done the same to whoever first picked up the call.
“That stupid lazy (4LW) rubbish driver missed my bin this morning. Too farking lazy to manoeuvre around the road works. All the other bins were collected but the (illegitimately born scoundrel) left mine! Lazy (illegitimately born scoundrel).”
He told me his address. There are roadworks going on there.
“That does not sound like Dave, mate. He would get out of the truck to fetch an inconveniently positioned bin – even though he is not supposed to. Dave is a good guy, and rarely misses a bin. Usually a bin is left beca….”.
“If you believe that you are a stupid farking (female genital apparatus) too”.
“As I was saying, usually a bin is left because it is overloaded and too heavy to lift, or it has something in it that is not allowed, or, very rarely, because everything is jammed in so tight it does not fall out. The only other reason is that perhaps it was not put out on time. What time did you put it out?”
“What the (procreative activity) does that have to do with it? He never (procreative activitingly) comes our way until 11.”
“Well. Everyone is reminded every year to have the bins out by 6 am. There is no guarantee that he will always follow the same route, and in the holidays he often gets ahead of himself anyway. What time did you put the bin out?”
“Well before 7” (Sounding a little defensive for a moment). Pinch of salt needed here.
“Ok I will give Dave a ring and see what he says.”
“You get him back here. I have nappies in that bin and it is full. I pay my rates…..”.
“Hmmm, that could be a bit smelly by next week… I will give Dave a ring. See what he says. And by the way, normally I would hang up on someone who swears as much as you do. Try to keep it together mate”. As expected, he hung up. “Oops, I forgot to ask your phone number. Darn”.
A call to Dave verified my suspicions. He had done that street well after 0730, but earlier than usual on the advice of the road crew, who wanted to close the street for a bit. He had collected all the bins that were out. My caller had told a fib! Oh the perfidy of humanity.
Dave asked if I wanted him to go back. I said no. Not this time. He is under no obligation to do so, it is costly in time and fuel, and to my mind such inconvenience should be reserved for kindly little old ladies with twinkling eyes and zimmer frames. Or at least for polite people.
I toyed with the idea of calling on the complainant in person, but I had other things to do.
I was pretty much expecting what happened next day. In a way I was rather looking forward to it. Having spent some years as an investigating and prosecuting officer, I have been harangued and abused by professionals and I rather miss the occasional rapier flash of a battle of wits. Of course that presupposes that both sides have some ammunition.
He came in, radiating anger and sending the front counter staff scurrying. The man clearly had anger management issues. I was sincerely concerned for the safety of his wife and child, so I decided to try conciliatory again. I hardly wanted to send him home needing to punch someone. Once again I need not have bothered. He had set his course and was going to plough it, reef and all. I had scarcely managed a cordial greeting when he was laying in, in the same aggressive abusive manner he had used on the phone, asking what I was going to do about his stinking bin.
I started out easy. ” I had a word with Dave yesterday. He said he came down your street quite some time after 7.30, and collected all the bins that were out. As I told you then, bins should all be out by 6 or we cannot guarantee collection. I let that sink in. He flustered on about where does it say that bins must be out by 6? I told him. :”In every rates notice, every annual refuse and recycling calendar and every second issue of the Shire newsletter.
“So what are you going to do about my bin?”
“Nothing. you should take it to the tip”.
“I F&#$)(##) can’t!”
“Do you have a friend with a ute or a trailer?”
“No friends? Ok. Sorry you’ll have to keep it till next week’s collection”
“But it is full of farkin nappies. There is no room for this weeks rubbish. What are you going to do about it?” Still he is thinking in terms of what other people should do for him. The anger and abuse welling up again.
“Sorry mate, nothing I can do for you now. From the moment you first contacted us, you were aggressive, abusive and rude”.
“Too right! Because….”
“You’ve had your turn. Rude and abusive. That does not predispose anyone to make a special effort to do you a favour. The bin is now your problem. Sorry. Good afternoon.”
“It’ll be the Shire’s farkin problem in the morning. I’ll dump at the front door”.
“Go for your life mate. I know where you live”.
Needless to say, the rubbish did not appear on our doorstep. I would like to think that the lesson will filter through eventually, but I somehow doubt it. Another XYY man I suspect. My thoughts are with his poor wife.
If perchance you get to read this, and recognise yourself, get some counselling mate. And remember that joke about the guy with the flat tyre:
A traveller got a flat in the middle of nowhere, late at night. He went to change it and discovered he had no jack.
In the distance up a side road he saw a light in the window of a farmhouse, and set off towards it.
Half way along the road light went out. He thought to himself “The farmer has gone to bed. He probably has to get up early in the morning. He won;t appreciate me getting him out for a flat. He will probably remind me what time it is and ask what the hell I am doing disturbing him at this hour. He might even be angry and tell me to bugger off.”
Just as his reverie brought him to this thought, he arrived at the door of the farmhouse. Someone must have heard him crunching up the gravel drive because the door opened as the traveller was wondering whether he would be told to bugger off.
“Oh stick your feckin jack up your ass then” he said.