Saturday, June 16, 2007

---Maurine and Frank's Rubbish.

It was lunchtime, and all and all Dave felt balanced.

The traffic on the freeway had not moved an inch in over a half hour. Dave was content enough, though. Long thoughtful breaths flowed from his mouth as he meditated on the traffic, and what the rest of the day might hold. Quiet, cleansing thoughts. His salad of a lunch sat beside him next to the seat, and although most of the work force was either on his freeway or eating their meals -- or both, he realized as he looked to the next car over -- Dave was not hungry and so decided to eat after the next job.

Dave's Rubbish Removal Truck had done him well over the years. Yellow and Orange writing on the side of the white cube truck hadn't let him down yet; "Dave's Rubbish Removal" inspired confidence to all unable to simply throw out the possessions they did not want. It's easy to throw garbage in the aptly-named bin outside of the house -- as for rubbish, well, there is no bin outside of the house for that.

Finally the traffic started to move again. After a few minutes Dave checked the notepad situated on his thigh for the address of the next house again before signaling to exist the freeway towards the small, mostly retirement condo city of Whiterock. Nestled next to the beach in Lower Mainland, British Columbia, the city used to be it's own little isolated haven; but as the Vancouver sprawl continued it's outward push into the wild potential of the rural areas, Whiterock had become no more isolated from the rest of the Greater Vancouver than the domesticated beach had from the ocean.

Many of Dave's clients were the elderly from Whiterock, and many were repeat customers. As he stared at the next appointment scribbled into this simple day planner he had a funny feeling he had a recollection of this address. Navigating the quiet streets the rubbish collector waved at groupings of slow moving white hair, and yielded to the occasional power cart. As he neared his destination it become certain he was heading to the site of a previous job. This is a good thing for Dave, as most of the time the repeat customers already know the basics behind removing rubbish -- something which often baffles even the most educated and academic of Vancouver's population. Reaching the address, a small yellow house on the hill with a great view overlooking the beach, Dave hops down from the driver's seat to proceed towards the elderly lady standing nervously on the front porch waving to the rubbish man.

"Well hello there" Dave says warmly as he approaches the senior citizen. "Maurine, right?" he remembers as he studies the yellow house, letting the past information trickle down from his memory banks.

"Yes, hello!" Maurine says in that nervous yet excited way only older people can manage. "How are you today?"

Dave shrugs, glancing up to the sky for a second. "I'm alright, actually...." he trails off, looking for a transition. "Great weather we have today eh?" he asks quickly, continuing. "Great for my type of work at least -- more business when the sun is out."

Maurine nods understandingly. "Yes, I can imagine so!"

"So, uh, what are we taking away today Ma'am?"

Maurine nods. "Well, a bunch of stuff I think... " she says before pausing for a moment. "You see, I'm moving... "

It hits Dave: last time he was here there was also a husband that doesn't seem to be accounted for now. She's moving because she's a widow, and likely lonely.

"Oh..." Dave starts, trying to decide how best to play this. Asking her where she's moving to would likely result in 'A retirement home' as the answer, which would invariably lead to her going into her husbands apparent recent death. Dave just wants to take away the rubbish. "Well I guess we all have to m0ve at sometime..." he finally gets out, wincing internally. "How bout we take a look at the junk then?"

Maurine nods, "Yes, yes follow me!" She starts into the house, continuing to talk and check over her shoulder to ensure Dave is following. She leads him down the main hallway to family room.

Walking behind the elderly lady Dave can see most of the rooms have been stripped down, if not empty. Finally they reach what looks to be a living room of sorts and there is a small pile of miscellaneous objects. Included is: a bench which opens up to reveal a record player inside; a rather large croquet set; a small stuffed bear on all fours; an old microwave; and many smaller, mostly male orientated things scattered throughout.

"Alright Ma'am this is going to be about a.... " Dave tosses his head back and forth as he estimates a price. He wants to go easy on the old lady but seeing as how a large number of his clients are elderly, and often widowers at that he had learned not to be too too lenient. "Yeah this is about a one hundred and sixty dollar job."

Maurine nods solemly.

"As I explained before, I'm charged by the weight of the stuff I have when I go to the dump. It's essentially a dollars and cents thing" he explains, lifting up a few things in the pile to see what is underneath. "Yeah, about a hundred and sixty -- is that ok with you? Don't feel at all pressured because I'm here. I have to do the estimations in person so me coming here is part of my job. If one-sixty is too much for you I understand completely."

Maurine seems to have sunk into thought, which is fine by Dave. If he recalls correctly, in fact, the last time he was here Maurine and her Husband were quite non-negotionable for quite a while before he managed to sway their opinion by the fact that he was one of the cheapest Rubbish Removal men out there -- which he was. Being understanding and fair was one of the reasons he had lasted in the business for so long.

Maurine's face seems to be jumping back and forth between amusement and sadness, but finally she responds. "You know, the last time you were here my husband did not think so well of you."

"No?" Dave inquires honestly, for a second forgetting he did not want get into the business of discussing the recently decease.

"My husband was a doctor... " Maurine explains with a certain intensity of love flaring up behind her eyes again. "A damn good one -- he said he got that way by studying and applying work ethic to knowledge."

Dave nods. "It's a good methodology."

"The last time you were here my Husband was angry that someone could walk into his house and receive hundreds of dollars for about twenty minutes of work. "

Dave nods. In his experience he had encountered this attitude more than a couple times. "Yes well, the costs can be a little deceptive -- I have to pay for advertising, the dump, gas, and many other expenses. Not to mention the government makes owning a small business almost impossible."

Maurine nods again. "Yes, I can imagine" she says quickly, exhaling slightly. "You see, Frank, being a doctor, and a self proclaimed intellectual did not respect you or what you did. We argued about this after you left the last time. He looked down on many people... unfairly I thought."

"I see... "

"I told him -- why don't you just take it to the dump?"

Dave remained silent -- talk about that question was something he avoided like the plague.

"In the end he just wanted it gone, you know? He wouldn't admit but he would never have gone to the dump. Not him. Couldn't out-think that one."

Dave nods. "So... one sixty is alright?"

Maurine nods, a sort of eccentric, sad smile escaping. "Yes. Really I just want it gone... "

No comments: