“Hey! What is that terrible smell emanating from the car trunk?”, exclaimed my tired brother-in-law, Moe. After an exhausting traffic filled trip back to the city from two months in the country in an upstate New York cottage, my brother-in-law, my sister and their family had finally returned home. Packing in black garbage bags can be so convenient, especially with towels and bathing suits taken off the outdoor clothes line right before departure. The linens are quickly stripped from the beds together with the ever-important mattress pads (no bed bugs please). Compressed black trash bags are so convenient for the linens, towels and other paraphernalia if creasing is not a problem. They can easily be stacked one on top of the other in the car.
So, what was that awful smell emanating from trunk?
“Just take everything out of the trunk and we’ll investigate to see what is smelling in the trunk,” said my sister, Mira, innocently. Well, wouldn’t you know it the smell in the trunk was practically gone after removing all the trash bags, the smell was now in the house. This mystery was getting more curious by the minute.
The couple decided to open the black trash bags one by one to see if maybe there were some wet towels causing the stench that they were smelling. Luckily, my sister has a sense of humor because after looking into several bags, she found the culprits. She started laughing while showing her husband the answer to the mysterious odor. Two bags of real and true garbage! My brother-in-law had mistakenly placed two garbage bags into the loads of other similar looking bags of clothes, linen and towels into his car trunk as he was packing up. Next trip home from the cottage I would suggest using green colored garbage bags.
Wow! It's not like they did not have enough stuff to bring back home. In fact, there was barely room for all the trash bags in the trunk. Fortunately, the bags were heavy duty contractor bags and did not break under the pressure of compacting the bags in the trunk. The real garbage was still securely in the real garbage bags.
On a more serious note, here are some not too funny stories of mistaken trash bags being dumped with valuables inside of them.
Many years ago, I was privileged to host a charity lawn party in my backyard. The weather was grand, and the party went over without a hitch. We used beautiful plastic décor, plates, cutlery and cups. The tablecloths were ordered by the committee from a party rental company. These cloths were beautiful white lace upscale tablecloths. The chairladies of the party decided to splurge on the cloths while keeping the cost conservative on everything else. These chairladies stayed on after the event and did all the cleanup; all that was asked of me was for the usage of my large backyard and home.
We lined up all the heavy duty black trash bags in front of my house and early the next morning the trash was picked up by a local sanitation pickup service. Sounds efficient, no? Well, yes and no. Not long after the trash was picked up, I received a call from one of the chairladies. “Good morning, thanks so much for hosting the beautiful charity event, it was quite profitable. By the way, the party rental company should be there before twelve to pick up the tablecloths". I answered, “I don't have the tablecloths, didn’t you take them home with you?”. The chairlady responded, “No, I put them all in two black garbage bags in the kitchen. Please prepare them so the party rental company can pick them up.”
I hung up the phone, knowing almost for certain that I would not find those precious tablecloths. Of course, I searched uselessly again, realizing in the back of my mind, exactly what had happened to them. I did not even bother to call back the chairlady. I called my husband at his office instead. “Call the sanitation department to make them aware of this slip-up “, he said efficiently. Then he came right home to head the tablecloth recovery unit.
Together with my husband, we donned work clothes, old sneakers and of course rubber gloves. We even took along a fresh trash bag to put the tablecloths into in the lucky event that they were located. Getting to the garbage dump, we realized what a massive search this was turning out to be. To the credit of our sanitation department, they were sympathetic to our search and allowed us free reign of the morning’s garbage. We looked through many trash bags failing to find the valuables we sought. After over an hour of searching, we gave up.
Upon my return home, I called the party rental company and told them my story. They were also sympathetic but only to the point that they agreed to charge me the cost price for the cloths. My husband and I were out over eight hundred dollars for the loss of the cloths.
Here is an even more expensive garbage bag debacle
For those of you unfamiliar with the laws and rituals of the Jewish holiday of Passover, let me enlighten you to one specific requirement. Any silver or silverware must be immersed in boiling hot water in order to be used during the holiday. This is because any utensils that were used with bread must either be put away or cleansed thoroughly according to specific rules.
A friend of my father owned a kosher nursing home facility. Each year he would supervise the strict cleansing of the eating utensils for the Passover holiday. Julius and his wife, Judy, were good hearted individuals, trying to help their friends have an easier holiday preparation. Julius was required to boil an industrial size pot with water to clean the utensils of the nursing home properly. His wife offered his services to her good friend. Her good friend, Leah, brought over several family heirloom silver pieces, including several precious sterling silver wine goblets and trays. These were handed down from her grandparents and perhaps even great-grandparents. Please don’t ask why, but she brought them in, you guessed it, a black trash bag.
As Julius was leaving to the nursing home, his wife stopped him, “Wait a minute, don’t forget to take Leah’s silver pieces.” “Of course,'' said Julius, “it’s my pleasure, please bring them to the car.” Wondering what was taking his wife so long, Julius returned to the house,” What’s going on? “he asked. His wife was crying. She could not find the black trash bag with the silver. She asked her mother’s caretaker who admitted that she had put the bag out to the garbage. Again, too late. Yes, the friend had some insurance. However, no insurance can replace family heirlooms.
We know the lessons to be learned here. They are self-explanatory. How can people prevent these accidents?
The most obvious and easiest solution would be to use clear trash bags in order to see what contents are inside. In our first scenario of packing laundry items in garbage bags when leaving the couple’s summer home, they might not want people to see their laundry in a clear garbage bag. But there is a possibility of purchasing special colored garbage bags for this specific purpose. This certainly would have avoided their smelly experience of bringing home actual garbage. Probably a better solution in this case would be to purchase inexpensive duffle bags.
In our second scenario, of the backyard charity function, clear trash bags would have been a perfect solution for the tablecloths. In fact, many local party rental companies drop off tablecloths in these clear bags. There is no privacy issue here, in fact the whole cleanup would have been flawless and so much money could have been saved. Yes, everything is preordained, maybe this money wasn’t supposed to be ours, but we could have very easily given it to the charity itself.
In our third scenario, there is no reasonable explanation for people keeping expensive and sentimental silver items in a black trash bag. Sometimes, we don’t want to spend extra money on the purchase of cases and holders for valuable pieces. Whether it is paying extra for a jewelry case for a necklace or ring or buying a box for your sterling silverware, it certainly pays. Each article of value should have a special place and box in the home.
This is reason why there are so many rules and regulations regarding garbage disposal. No one knows what's in an unmarked trash bag and the one who deposits it takes sole responsibility. Therefore, states and counties have implemented a labeling system to know what contents are in these bags and containers. Often, they will require each trash type to be in a special container or specific colored bags. Besides for assisting in the sortation process it prevents garbage bag debacles by knowing what's in the bag.
Helping others without reward is the reason we are on this earth. Yes, we are only human, but humans are holy growing beings. So next time you want to help someone, help yourself as well by being diligent and careful in the way you take care of their valuables, and yes you might have to educate them as well.