Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Oscar the Trash Monster (Copywrite pending)

A scenario:

You walk out your front door in the morning, on your way to work-- but the door jams. So you push a little harder then you usually would, and you hear a rustling sound... along with the dirty scrape of a garbage bag being pushed out of the way. Since it's summer, and the sun is at full blast, the freshly-ripped bag smacks you in the face with a pungency only reserved for week-old coffee grounds, mixed with vegetable peels and cigarette butts. Even if it wasn't first thing in the morning, it would still be an offense on multiple senses.

Your immediate response is emotional. You feel disgusted and violated. Someone (that you have immediately nicknamed using the most violent words in your vocabulary) has left a bag of garbage in front of your door! Who in their right mind would do something like this??? You live in the last apartment on the top floor, which means that no one could have done this accidentally. This was deliberate. A personal affront. Worst thing is: it's not even the first time.

Let's back up a bit. Have you ever been to Tokyo? Are you aware of how many people live here? The answer is roughly 36 million and counting. And those are just the registered citizens. Now think about all the garbage 36 million people produce on a daily basis. Have you ever wondered how they get rid of all of it? Most people have absolutely no idea. Well... I did some research.
Turns out... they BURN MOST OF IT. With privatized and unregulated companies, unaffiliated with the government. Most of the stuff that is meticulously sorted ends up in the same place. But, in a truly Japanese fashion, they first sort it to such a hilariously specific degree, so that the rules are almost impossible to follow. Please observe the Garbage Sorting Chart I received when I first moved to Tokyo:

According to these charts, I basically have to throw out about 6-8 separate bags of trash, twice a week. And then thin plastic, thick plastic, glass, and cans get their own special parade on other days. AND SO HELP YOU JEBUS IF YOU F*CK THAT UP.

In Utsunomiya, the separation of garbage was encouraged, but not held to Nazi-esque standards, like in Tokyo. There are only 900,000 people in Utsunomiya. The garbage Nazis didn't pay me any mind. Or if they did- they never bothered me, specifically.We had a mini-dumpster outside our apartment, which we threw regular waste into on Tuesdays, and recyclables into on Sundays. Life was relatively simple.

Flash-forward to the present. I'm pushing week-old garbage out of the way with my work shoes, making a mental note to 'deal with it later.' But I already know how this is going to end. You see, I've done this dance before. The dance with Oscar.

You see, I live in a (very conveniently located) apartment building owned by a large rental agency, which caters to foreigners and part-time living arrangements. For the most part, they've been overwhelmingly great to me and my roommate. We have all kinds of unheard-of perks, like free wifi and an unlimited supply of available free furniture. We have signed onto a full year lease, which means that our generated revenue is worth something to them. We're (usually) clean, and we (usually) don't make noise. Their local office is also located on the first floor of our building, which means that they are always there right away if something needs to be fixed. Our designated agent is always friendly and helpful, and I couldn't be more appreciative of his awesomeness. But there's OSCAR.

Oscar first made our acquaintance in the most passive-aggressive way humanly possible- by leaving a random bag of trash in front of my door. Keeping in mind, this was done somewhere between the hours of 11 p.m. And 1 a.m. I know this because I came home to this freddy-kruger-sliced bag at 1 a.m. Sitting in front of my doorstep. Like it's TOTALLY NORMAL TO LEAVE SLASHED-OPEN BAGS OF GARBAGE ON SOMEONES DOORSTEP. REALLY.

So I did the only thing I could think of- I picked it up and walked it down the 5 flights of stairs and left it right where it was supposed to be- next to the other bags of trash. In my mind, I was righting some horrible wrong. I mean... who in their right mind would leave garbage in front of someone's door? What kind of sick joke was this?? I put it from my mind and went to bed.

The following morning I left for work at 8 a.m. You'll never guess what was waiting for me. YOU'LL NEVER GUESS. Okay, you might have guessed.



AT 8 A.M.

That means that in the 7 hours I had slept, some garbage troll had gone into the pile of trash outside the building, rifled through it, retrieved the bag, and had returned it to me. I might have almost been impressed with his diligence in garbage-related maintenance, if it wasn't for the BLIND RAGE I was in.

I saw red.

'Angry' would be an understatement.

I stormed down to the rental office and demanded to speak to the <expletive> who had left a <explitive> bag of <expletive> garbage TWICE IN <EXPLITIVE> 8 HOURS in front of my <explitive> door. Swearwords in multiple languages were spoken. Needless to say, I was miffed. One poor innocent bastard tried to calm me down. But my noise caught the attention of someone else... OSCAR.

Oscar stormed up to me, in his four-and-a-half feet of glory, and simple stated that it was *him* who had left it. He clutched in his hand a coffee-stained phone bill with my name on it-- proving that this bag was indeed  mine. He has since kept it 'for evidence.' He then told me that 'it wasn't my day' to put my garbage out, and that I would 'have to wait until tomorrow, like everyone else.' I made several suggestions about his questionable origins as a human being, and his hysterically passive-aggressive methods of trash control. There was more, but I won't go into it.

My agent later informed me that Oscar is simply another agent for the company. He has no particular responsibility for the garbage 'situation,' but takes it upon himself to check and re-check every bag to make sure we are all following the rules. In my books, he's psychotic. But not technically breaking any rules. So every couple weeks, if I don't sort my garbage to his exact specifications, I'll inevitably open my door to a torn-open trash bag.

And now I just laugh. I have to laugh-- It's too ridiculous not to laugh. You can't fight a guy like Oscar. He's the kind of guy who VOLUNTARILY SORTS THROUGH GARBAGE FOR FUN.  You just have to slowly back away from those kinds of people.  And then I quietly take my bag of garbage to the convenience store across the street and leave it there, where it gets picked up twice a week with the rest. Tokyo is crazy, folks. Never forget it.

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