Tricounty News

Collection day?

Dear good folks at the garbage collection company ...

What's that sound? It's me laughing.

I got a good chuckle the other day when I opened up my garbage collection bill and saw that it included a $3 late fee. Excuse me, I have to take a giggle break from typing again. I can't seem to help myself.

I don't suppose you've ever heard of the phrase, "The pot calling the kettle black?"

I agree that I may have been a day or two late on my bill. We had a huge snowstorm here and I was unable to get to the mailbox for a full 48 hours. I know your company was aware of the storm, because it kept your trucks off the streets. This I understood. I wouldn't want anyone to risk his or her own safety by going out in a treacherous storm. But after the roads were plowed, I figured it would be back to business as usual.

This was not the case. You were not only late in picking up my garbage that week; you missed pick up completely. Completely. I called daily, requesting information on your pick up service, and you promised your truck would arrive at my driveway soon - within hours, perhaps minutes.

The garbage sat out on the curb for three full days. During that time, it was ravaged by neighborhood squirrels, crows, cats and one rather large Labrador retriever. Each day, I walked down to the road and picked up the trash that the assorted critters had strewn about during the past night.

When you finally called with a recorded message to say that garbage pick-up was not only delayed, but cancelled for the entire week, I didn't know whether to be horrified at the accumulation predictions or relieved that I'd no longer have to battle with the squirrels.

Do you realize what delaying garbage pick-up for a full seven days means to a family of six? It caused incredible inconvenience, not to mention shuffling, stomping and squishing of the garbage. On the fourth day, we had to pay our 12-year-old son to stand atop the heap and jump up and down in order to compact the mass that was amassing.

And then, I get the letter announcing your late fees.

I am writing to inform you of my own late fees.

Since my normal garbage bill is about $40 per month, and each month has four weeks, I think a fair fee for missing an entire week is $10.

Each morning, for three days, I had to wake early and go down to the street to pick up trash. This was a dirty job and worth at least $20 per hour. Since I spent 10 minutes a day for three days, your bill for my services is another $10.

Next, I feel compelled to add in a little something for pain, suffering and stink exposure. Let's say an even $7 ($1 for each day you were late).

My son charged me $3 for his stomping services. I feel it only fair to pass this expense on to you.

This leaves us with late charges of $30. Since I am a nice person, I am willing to waive most of those fees, say about 90 percent, leaving you with a late fee of $3.

Since my late fee was also $3, I guess we cancel each other out. In other words, I am willing to overlook your late fees if you are willing to overlook mine.

It's a good thing I have a sense of humor, and (finally) an empty garbage can.

Jill Pertler is a syndicated columnist and award-winning freelance writer. She appreciates your comments and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or you can check out her Web site at