For the past few years, I have encountered slats from the fence that separates our yard from the parking lot of the apartment building next door in the mornings when I was on my way to work. Or in the afternoon when I came home from work. Or in the middle of the day when I was home for the weekend. This was initially interpreted by me as vandalism of the most shoddy kind: the annoyance fix. This was expressly true when we still had a dog roaming our property. The width of the slats were just the right size for our canine-American to squeeze through and go out in search of discarded diapers to eat in our neighborhood. It was important for someone to jump into that particular breech and keep our pet on our side of the fence.
When our dog was gone, the alarm I felt when slats were displaced dissipated. But there was still that hole in the fence. A fence that had stood the test of time, or at least to a certain point in time. The vandals that I had imagined wantonly and recklessly destroying our property. It turns out that it was more a function of the disintegration of the edifice that had been placed there before we ever took up residence. Things fall apart. Car doors opened too close to the fence knocked out a few. Kids bouncing balls against it could have the same effect. Small insects coughing in the general direction of the redwood structure that may have been first erected by ancient Mayans could have taken the thing down. I learned this emphatically when it came time to tear the whole thing down and start again.
My son and I built a new fence over the course of a few days, and now the clock starts ticking for the time when some future generation will have to fuss about missing slats and wobbly posts. In the meantime, we were stuck with a lawn full of rotted lumber that was in need of disposal. I made a preemptive call to Waste Management to get help managing our waste. I scheduled the earliest possible pickup for the debris: July 8. I spent days longer than the actual construction of the new fence pulling nails and screws and staples from the wood that used to be our fence, preparing it for the compost heap. I bundled it, and stacked it in one corner of our yard, waiting for the day when it would no longer be our problem.
On the day before our bulky waste pickup, I moved all those bundles to the curb and waited for the next morning when the old fence would become just a memory. By four o'clock in the afternoon on July 8, the bulky waste had not been picked up. I made a call to Waste Management, asking them if there was still a truck coming to relieve us of our woody burden. I was informed that a truck had indeed come by, earlier that day, but since the nicely bundled stacks were blocked by parked cars, they went on their way.
"Did you leave it in the gutter?" asked the customer service helpdroid.
"You mean in the street?" I asked in incredulous response.
Suddenly I felt cursed by the burden of disintegration. I was told that I needed to wait until the following Monday before a truck could be sent back out "as a courtesy." My son and I dragged all the fence that once was back inside our new fence and waited until Sunday night, when a spot opened up in the gutter in front of our house where once again all that mess was stacked carefully once more, this time in the gutter. I awoke Monday morning to the sound of all that lumber being loaded onto a truck and driven away. Out of sight, but it will be some time still before it is out of mind.