Being mistaken for a bag lady.


It all started out so innocently.

I came down with a bad cold. A really bad cold, but couldn’t afford to miss work, so I loaded up on the cold meds. The daytime meds so I wouldn’t be groggy but be able to suppress my cough enough that I wasn’t coughing on the patients in the clinic and not have to have Kleenex jammed up my nose because it was running so bad.

I made it through the day and when I drove up my street, I saw everyone had their garbage cans out for pick-up the next morning.

That made me want to cry. That meant I had to put the cans out, deal with the God damned recycling (otherwise I am harming all of mankind if I don’t recycle) and clean up the yard that night. I still had work to do for my other job and I was starting to sound like a frog with laryngitis.

I blew it off. I was too sick and too tired to deal with it, so I figured I would do it first thing in the morning. I would have time, right?

By the time I crawled into bed, it was late. The heat was triggering my hot flashes, so I put the fan on high, took off all my clothes and  loaded up on nighttime cold meds. My roommate wasn’t going to be home that night, so I was safe. Safe from him having to come into my bedroom to use the bathroom and not screaming at what was lying on the bed. A clogged-up, naked, snoring woman who was drenched in sweat, with her hair matted to her forehead and who no longer gave a fuck about life for the night. He owes me.

The next morning, the garbage trucks wake me up. I push myself up. I feel swollen, like a plumb trapped in a grape. I stagger to the bathroom, trying to remember what it is I’m supposed to be doing and then I remember.


For some reason, this is crucial. Blame the meds or blame my warped sense of priorities, but this shit was vital!

I grab a t-shirt and find a pair of shorts in the hamper. I get the garbage from under the sink. I grab the recycling bag and it spills. I’m now drenched in spaghetti sauce BECAUSE INSTEAD OF PUTTING THE BOTTLE BACK IN THE FRIG, I PUT IT IN THE RECYCLING BAG!

I have no idea why I did that.

I open the front door and Blue, my dog, goes charging out and bumps me. I drop the bags and they spill on me. So not only do I have spaghetti sauce down the front of me, I now have coffee grounds running down my leg.

But I’ve got to get to the cans and move them out to the street.

I put on a pair of flip flops that I keep by the door for this reason. I’m prefer to be barefoot, but if I need to go outside, there they are. Brilliant.

I put the garbage in the can and hurry out to the curb. One of the flip flops breaks, so I leave it behind me. I’m on a mission and sometimes there is collateral  damage.

I made the first target. One canister done and another one to go. Woo hoo! I put the bag down for the recycling. I’ve got to go back and grab that canister.

I can do this!

I hear the trucks approaching. I run to the next canister. I pray no one sees me.

I get to the canister and haul it to the street. I run over my broken flip flop. It looked so sad but I don’t care. The truck is next door, quickly approaching.

I push it to the curb. I open the one side and dump everything in and then I see it.


I start having a coughing fit. I dig into one side of it. Half my body is immersed in it and it tips over. I fall with it just as the truck pulls up.

He stops and looks at me. There I am, rolling around in the garbage with food all over me, one flip flop on, hair all over the place and what looks like dirt up and down my legs.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, he says “Hey, you OK? You know there’s a shelter down the street where you can get some food. No reason for you to eat garbage…”

Lord have mercy, why did I have to run into a kind soul right at that moment?

I nod, thank him and get up. I start to explain, but there’s no point. I quickly put the plastic where it should go and the paper in its bin. I say nothing and he just sits in his truck, staring at me. I brush myself off and walk back to the house. I pick up the flip flop and carry it back inside with me.

Blue acts as if I’ve been gone for a week and starts licking the coffee grounds off my leg. I can’t decide whether to laugh or cry, so I take a long hot shower instead.

I blame the cold meds.





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