Friday, November 18, 2011

Thankful: Trash Day

       As I was lying in bed this morning listening to the garbage truck rumble into our cul-de-sac, I thought back to this post I wrote nearly six years ago. I'm reposting, since it fits right into my month of thanks.

       Friday is trash day. The trucks come rolling into our neighborhood at 6:45AM. A certain small boy thinks this is very exciting and comes bounding out of his room way too early. I usually lie in bed groaning at the prospect of spending an entire day with a way-too-tired boy on account of him wanting to see the garbage trucks. It's not a good way for me to start the day.

        A few hours after the trash was picked up this morning I got to reminiscing about my time spent in India and Nepal. In light of my grumblings about the trash trucks coming so early, I've compiled a list of things to be thankful for. They're simple things that in this country I usually take for granted. Hopefully next time I start to let my complaining heart take over, I can read this over and find something to be thankful for instead.

        1. Trash Service This seems a logical place to start, since that's what got me whining first thing this morning. It's pretty amazing to have a truck that comes by on a regular basis and hauls my trash away. In India we just had to dump it out by the street, where passing cows, goats, pigs, and people could rummage through it and scatter it about. I think there was some sort of truck that might come pick it up once in a while, but we never knew when. I always felt guilty just throwing my trash on the street.

        2. Electricity Can you imagine living even a day in your home without power? Maybe if you knew it was going to happen it could be sort of fun for a while, but the novelty would wear off pretty quickly. In India and Nepal, the power would come and go without warning. Sometimes I thought I had it figured out, like it's off from nine to one every day, but then it would change, usually in the middle of writing a nice long email (that would then be lost) or cooking dinner. Then I would get to continue cooking over my very scary kerosine stove by the flickering of candles. And not nicely scented clean burning ones, but ones that sent up toxic black smoke that almost made me choke.

        3. Heat This one goes along with electricity for most of us, but I think it deserves its own category. My house is so nice and comfy, even if it's freezing outside. If I get too cold I can turn up the heat. I remember huddling in my sleeping bag in Nepal, burning a candle in vain hope that it might warm up the room a bit. Brrrrr....

        4. Water There's plenty of fodder for thankfulness here. First off, I can turn on my tap anytime I want and have water that's safe to drink. No boiling, cooling, or pumping. No having to think about (or try not to think about) the fact that this same water was just pumped out of the river where people bathe, wash clothes and dishes and water buffalo, and throw the dead bodies. Even if it's been boiled and filtered, it's still just kind of gross. Secondly, within seconds the water that comes out of my tap will be hot if I want it to be. (I must admit that I often get impatient in those seconds.) In some places we had hot water if the sun had been out and warmed the solar tanks on the rooftops. Other places there was no hot water unless you heated it yourself. Bathing was a real ordeal. Which brings me to my next point....

        5. Bathrooms It's easy for me to feel a bit sorry for myself because we only have a shower and not a tub. But really I have nothing to complain about. Our bathroom in Varanasi, India was a dark room with concrete walls and floor. At one end of the room there was a hole in the floor where one might wish for a toilet. About halfway up one wall was a spigot for (cold) water. I will never complain about not having a bathtub again.

        6. Medical Care I took Alethea to the doctor this morning for her check-up. Sometimes I get annoyed at having to wait more than a few minutes to be called in for my appointment. When I was in Nepal I was extremely sick and taken to a hospital. The waiting room was full- and I mean full in the Asian sense of the word, like people in every available inch of the room. Who knows what one might contract waiting in there for hours. It's pretty amazing that we can get in to see a doctor and have good medical care when we need it.

        7. Refrigeration I have one of those side-by-side fridges and still I find myself wishing I had a bigger one sometimes. I need to remember what it was like to have no refrigerator. I had to shop one day at a time, and I never quite knew what to do with leftovers. Thankfully my friend Leilah would usually come in sometime around 2 AM and finish off whatever was left in the pot. I'd then see her hunched over in her sleeping bag reading her Bible by (smoky) candlelight.

        I could go on, but that pretty much covers the basic things that it's so easy to take for granted, like they're my inalienable rights or something. While there's a simplicity that I miss about living in India, one has to work pretty hard to accomplish anything there. I have so much to be thankful for. I'm going to try hard to remember this when I'm lying in bed next Friday morning and those garbage trucks come around.


  1. Great reminders Rebeca. Maybe I should put this list on MY side by side refrigerator!!

  2. It is amazing how affluenza can make us forget all the privileges we have that we consider to be rights.

  3. Incidentally, November 19 is International Toilet Day: a day to consider that much of the world does not have sanitary nor convenient toileting choices.

    As a family of 6 with one bathroom, I am often asked how I can stand it. I just tell them I am glad I don't have to go find a bush.

  4. So true,it's good to be reminded. Funny, for years raising our children, we only had a tub, no shower.:)

  5. Jenny... happy Toilet Day! Hoorday for toilets. I actually like squatty potties, but that's another story. :> My family of seven lived for a long time with one bathroom and we all survived, somehow!
    Betty, we actually do have a tub now, but at the time I wrote this we didn't. I'm very glad for one.


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