A Pretty Rubbish Situation

It’s bin day. Every Wednesday is bin day in Bo Kaap. Or at least it is on my street. So I head outside, trash in hand and go to lift the lid of the dustbin. Only there is no lid to lift. Nor bin to fill. It’s gone. Poof. Disappeared.

I look up and down the road. Everyone else’s council-issue grey bins are there. All standing to attention, feet teetering on the edge of the pavement, pleading to be parted from the pooey nappies, rotting potato peels and other toxic content their owners have stuffed them full of. Everyone’s, except mine. And I’m confused.

I kind of do a circle on the spot, eyeing any nook and cranny that could possibly conceal a giant rectangular cesspit. It’s one of those stupid things you do when you don’t know what else to do. But I find nothing.




So, running out of options, I default to Zilla’s good people and phone the council. And the call went a little something like this:

“Hi. My bin’s disappeared.”

“You mean it’s been stolen?”

“Um, well, I never thought about it like that. I guess it has.”

“Then you have to report it to the police.”

“What, my bin? Don’t the police have bigger things to worry about?”

“I guess so. But if you don’t get a case number, you have to pay for it yourself.

“How much is it?”

“About R800”

“I’ll report it to the police.”  

This just seemed ridiculous to me. First of all, who the hell would steal a bin? And secondly, “I’d like to report a missing dustbin,” just doesn’t have the seriousness and urgency that “I’d like to report a missing person” carries with it. I feared that if I reported this so called ‘offence’ I would be the laughing stock of the police station and my calls to report actual real-life crimes in future would forever fall on deaf ears.

Nevertheless, not wanting to fork out the R800, I went.

As I took my seat in front of the Officer he looked at me like I was out of place and grumble, “What can I do for you my dear?” I didn’t think I had it in me to hide my embarrassment, so I went full blonde on him. I batted the eyelashes and turned on the sweet until his accusing eyes turned into pools of sympathy. And I left with a reassuring pat on the back, a case number and the name of the SGT who would be investigating my ‘incredibly unfortunate’ situation. Yes, I’m disgusted with myself too.

That night, I pulled up outside my little Bo Kaap house, pretty chuffed with my productivity. It was late and dark. And as I closed the car door I was startled by a big, fat, from-the-pit-of-your-stomach snore. I followed the rhythmic grunt to the landing outside the front door of one of the small houses a couple of doors down from ours. And on that landing was a bin. Resting on its side. And on that bin was a number. Our house number. And in that bin was our resident crazy. Almost incognito, save for his bear-like snore. WTF?

A little bit about crazy man. He is just that, crazy. I could probably write a whole post on him, but for now I’m going to top line. He’s pretty well presented. Certainly doesn’t look like he’s homeless. Never askes you for anything. But is constantly babbling away rather urgently at someone or something that clearly only he can see.

He walks with a sense of purpose. Head down, arms propelling him further forward with every back and forth. And for the most part he’ll stride right by without giving you a single glance. But every now and again, just as you think you’re in the clear, he’ll unexpectedly swing around, stick a waging finger in your face and mutter weird, mostly incoherent ruminations like “Something strange is going on here. Very strange. Do you see?” And just as quickly he’ll drop his finger, swing back around and march on. It’s a pretty intense experience.

Anyway, back to the story at hand. Here’s the conundrum. Your bin’s been stolen. Yes. You know who the perpetrator is. Yes. You have the name and contact details of the ‘investigating officer’ on the case. Yes. What do you do?

Nothing, that’s what. You call the council, give them your case number, sign on delivery and hope that if Crazy Man takes a shining to the new (clean) bin sat outside your front door, that he at least replaces it with the old one. I mean, the guy’s using it as a tent for goodness sake. And he’s crazy. That pretty much trumps everything.

So, you let him keep it. That’s what you do. Or at least, that’s what I did anyway…