Life Narrated

I could never be a criminal


A few years ago, we had a busy week and forgot to put our trash out at the curb for pick up. It wasn’t too big a deal at first, but before the following week’s pick up, all of our big cans were full and pick up day was still several days away. Knowing that we couldn’t stack the bags on top of the cans because the neighborhood cats would get into them, there came a point when we realized that we would have to do something.

My husband is in law enforcement, so when he handed me a full bag and said “Take it somewhere and get rid of it.” I heard something akin to “take the body and get rid of it” in my head. After all, we watch a lot of Law & Order. I was on my way out to the store to get some milk when he handed me the bag. I reminded him that most businesses frown upon people putting trash into their dumpsters and I felt sure it was illegal. He told me that my one bag of trash wouldn’t be a big deal and to just go do it. Somehow, I just knew that the cops would be watching me ‘make the drop’, and so I set off on my covert criminal mission feeling paranoid and nervous. I felt so sneaky tossing the bag of trash into the back of the van to make the trek to a dumpster under the cover of darkness. I couldn’t think of any business in town that wouldn’t have lots of lights and cameras watching me, so I knew I’d have to find some place dark and be quick about it.

My first stop was First Baptist Church. From the road, I could see their dumpster sitting at the back of their parking lot, wide open. Hooray! Maybe this wouldn’t be so hard after all! I pulled into the driveway and proceeded toward the dumpster. As I got closer, I realized there was a big rig parked next to the dumpster with the engine running. No doubt some scary truck driver was spending his night on the church parking lot. I was far too paranoid to get out of the van alone in the dark and walk right up beside the big truck (after all, the driver would either jump out and grab me to kill me or call the cops and report some weird lady unlawfully throwing her trash in the church dumpster, right?) so I drove away in search of a new site for the scene of my crime.

My next stop was the library, but I realized after I got there that they don’t have a dumpster! The YMCA, which is located right behind the library, was closed, so I thought that ought to be perfect. I made the short drive to their property and spotted the dumpster. However, just as I pulled up alongside it, an employee pulled into the parking lot. Unsure of whose headlights I was seeing at first, I quickly turned around to leave. After all, the trucker at the church may’ve called the cops on me.

As I travelled down the road, wracking my brain about where I could dump the trash, I remembered that there is a set of apartments in town. I could go there and “pretend” to be looking for a friend who lives there and no one would ever know if I lived there or not. (Yikes! See how quickly the criminal mindset rubs off on me—I was justifying my crime and coming up with alibis already.) I headed that direction and then realized that I’d be passing another church on the way. When I reached the church, I pulled into their parking lot and spotted the scene of my drop. All I had to do is make it past the church van (there’s bound to be dumpster security guards hiding behind it, after all). Those last 20 feet or so, I thought I had made it free and clear. And then it happened. There was a sign. In bold letters, right there on the dumpster’s front it said, “For church use only”. Now if I used this one, I would feel like a criminal and a sinner. What to do, what to do?

As I threw my bag of trash into the dumpster, I told Jesus I was sorry for my unlawful behavior. I ran back to the van and sped away. As I stood in the check-out line at Brookshire’s, I peered over my shoulder and into the parking lot where I was parked. I was certain that one of Whitehouse’s finest would be waiting for me at the door of my minivan when I returned with my gallon of milk.

When I told Larry all this when I got home, he kept laughing and holding his sides. I guess he found it all funny. I could never be a criminal.


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