Oops! My OCD Is Showing!

I come by it honestly. My OCD.

When I was just 16 and coming home from a date, my mother was outside scrubbing the front curb. Embarrassed, I mumbled a quick “thank you” and “bye!” Poor guy. Probably thought I had a terrible time at the baseball game. But then I remembered that he, too, had noticed my mother out there, scrubbing away.

After he pulled out of the driveway and was safely around the corner, I went back outside.

“Mom!” I said, “What are you doing?”

“I’m scrubbing the curb,” she said matter-of-factly.

“I can see that. But why?” I insisted.

“Because it was dirty,” she said, now looking at me like I’m the one from outer space.

“But that’s what the street cleaners are for,” I explained.

“Well, they don’t do a good enough job!” she replied and went back to her scrubbing.

Our home always looked like a Better Homes and Gardens picture spread. Everything always in its place. Impeccably decorated.

And now, I’m carrying on the tradition. With our trash cans.

We have a convenient concrete pad next to our mailbox. It is where we always put our garbage cans to rest until the garbage men come to empty them. Four years they have occupied that spot.

And then? Our new neighbors moved in. They decided to share our space, next to our mailbox.

I’m a bit finicky about my garbage cans. When they get smelly, I rinse them out with Pine-sol. This can be tricky during drought restriction summers. I’ve been known to sneak out, at night, to clean them in the cover of darkness. (Oh, please don’t rat me out!) But last summer, it seemed they were smellier than usual.

Every week I was having to clean out our cans. Much more than usual. Stinky. Smelly. Attracting flies. I’d remind my daughter to tie the bags tightly. I’d accuse my husband of tossing loose trash (mostly half empty fast food wrappers and cups) into the can without being securely hidden in a tightly tied plastic bag. But every week, when I’d collect our can from the curb, there would be ooey, gooey, sticky, smelly drippings and droppings on the bottom or coating the sides. It was gross.

But not as gross as the maggots.

I still shudder when I remember the maggots. Imagine my surprise when I brought the can up from the street and open my can and saw maggots. Not one. Not two. Hundreds. Coating the bottom of the can. The bottom. I’m all of 5’6″. My arms didn’t reach to the bottom. A broom (I tried) couldn’t get them all. I had to put the can on its side and crawl into the can armed only with a scrub brush and a spray bottle of Lysol disinfectant. (Had to, you ask? Yes. Had to. I’m OCD, remember?)

And then I remembered. We had been on vacation the previous week. There was hardly any trash in the can to begin with. In fact, there were no perishables in the can. How in the world did we have maggots?

It was then that I realized that we (and by we, I mean I) had been cleaning out our neighbor’s trash can all summer long.

So I did what any other self-respecting OCDer would do. I drew our initial, in Sharpie, by the handle of the can so we’d know whose is whose.

And they, in retaliation I suppose, drew their house numbers even bigger by the handle of their can. (They’d show us!)

But even that didn’t work. So when I went to pick up our sparkling clean recycling bin – because we (and by we, I mean I) rinse out everything that goes into our bin – only to find their recycling bin coated with layers of dried, sticky and stinky soda, milk and beer dribblings? I left it at the curb. I had proof that bin wasn’t ours. Not only were their house numbers written on the side, my husband was on his latest “I’m giving up coffee/soda/beer – take your pick” binge. No way was that bin ours. We hadn’t tossed a soda or beer can in weeks.

So there.

Yes. I pulled the can over to their side and left it at the curb. When they finally noticed, they pulled our sparkling clean can out of their garage and left it in front of our garage door. The following week they decided not to share the concrete pad next to our mailbox. They put their cans on the other side of their driveway, sitting on the grass in defiance.

They showed us.

And I don’t care.

At least I have my sweet-smelling garbage cans back.

And that’s all that matters to little Miss OCD.


Filed under Completely Random, How We Roll

13 responses to “Oops! My OCD Is Showing!

  1. Can you come scrub our garbage cans? It’s a helluva mess.

  2. Thanks for my morning giggle, Jane…your story reminds me of one of our former neighbours about 20 years ago. He would trim the grass growing up through the cracks in the sidewalk in front of his house, and then bring out his ShopVac and vacuum up the trimmings! I just about died laughing the first time I saw him vacuuming the sidewalk!


  3. Our garbage cans are in the alley behind our house and that is where they stay. I have no idea what the inside looks like.. .we don’t recycle garbage in the city of Chicago or if we do its impossible to figure out. Every day a huge bag of poop goes in one can which is much more effective than a shredder.
    I don’t think my under the sink garbage can is sweet smelling but I am pretty sure it does not stink.
    I admire you for sticking to your guns and not taking any garbage from your neighbors.

  4. What a chuckle! (No offense.) No such tendencies around this little (cluttered) household. (Scrubbing the curb? The curb???)


  5. Ha ha ha ha ha! Neighbour wars! Those are the best…. and worst. Did you ever just pop over to let them know you have separate garbage cans? 😀 Funny stuff.

  6. This story made me laugh. If anything, your neighbors are nuts for not noticing that they were taking your bins! I clean the trash can all the time too. My roommate thinks I’m nuts, but it grosses me out when it’s dirty. I say the world would be a better place if we were all little OCD 😉

  7. I completely understand this. Does that make us both OCD? Loved this so much.

  8. Oh I think your neighbors knew absolutely they were taking your CLEAN garbage cans…and they were secretly glad you were cleaning them each week! But as soon as you figured it out they retreated in shame! Shame shame neighbors! (But it’s a really good story never-the-less)

  9. Wow. I mean. Wow. Yeah, I hardly even spray ours out. Though I kinda get OCD over the kitchen (because I cook in it!) and the boys’ bathroom (because they miss the tiolet and the baby crawls in there!)

  10. Don’t ever visit me on the Isle of Wight. Ever! The shock and horror at my lack of bin cleanliness might prove too much! lol!!

  11. Does it irritate you when dog walkers toss their poop bags in your can when it’s by the curb? That irks me. I want people to take ALL of their dog home with them. Miss Piggy’s is all I can handle.

    Is this the neighbor in the witness protection program?

    I thought about you today. I was listening to NPR and on a program about plastics, the guest mentioned that people were so enamored of cellophane that the word “cellophane” became one of the favorite words in our language in the 40’s, topped only by “mother” and “memory.”

  12. This is why I love blogs. This post is the kind of thing you don’t find out about someone until you *really* know them, and after finding out, you do a quick gut check. Do I stay or do I go? Cuz Jane’s clearly crazy. But I’m staying. Your crazy is cute. And productive. And ridding the world of rude and smelly people. Go Jane!

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