Dying for Garbage Day

I used to knock over trash cans when I was younger. My friends and I would call each other up, hop on our bikes and ride through neighborhoods side-kicking trash cans and laughing as they toppled over and spilled their contents into the street. Looking back as an adult, I now realize that I was the exact type of kid that I hate today. I guess it was a combination of the exhilaration of doing something I wasn’t supposed to be doing, the fear of being caught, and the camaraderie of performing small-scale acts of vandalism with friends. It was fun, it was funny, and it was incredibly stupid. I don’t think anyone young enough to think this sounds cool will actually read this, so I’m going to eschew the cliché warning away from duplicating my actions. But I will say that if someone were to do this, I understand.

The main complaint about growing up in a small-ish town is that there’s nothing to do. I probably said this more in my adolescence than “Hi.” This, of course, is an empty statement. There’s always something to do if your bar is set low enough. You could either sit around and complain, or you could make something of yourself and kick over some goddamn trash cans.

The reason I bring this up, is that no matter what you spend your time doing, no matter what your hobby is, the basic goal is the same: Distract you from the fact that you are always almost dead. You could look at it as hobbies are a way to kill time until you die, but that doesn’t go far enough. Everything in your entire life is just killing time until you die. A career, preparing food, creating friendships, raising a family, they’re all just ways to occupy yourself until you finally eat your last pizza roll. So that’s not too interesting. You know what’s interesting? How amazing it is that we’re not all dead right now. This should be uplifting, if only it weren’t so terrifying.

We drive down the road with complete confidence that someone on the other side of the yellow line won’t sneeze and move their wheel two degrees to the left. Even if we’re driving a measly 25 miles per hour, the combined impact of a head on collision is the same as smashing into concrete wall at 50. I’m no doctor, but I’m pretty sure that would instantly incinerate your body before your soul has a chance to escape (that’s what it means to be in hell. You’re forever trapped inside your burning body and since you’re life stops, it also stops the progression of time [from your point of view, at least]. This is what people mean when they say you will burn in hell for eternity. It’s not technically sound, but the result is the same. The only difference is that it isn’t Satan searing you like a tuna steak, it’s your own bad luck and possibly bad driving).

When was the last time you waited for a bus? 1997? Never? Well, next time you do, don’t sit there swearing that the bus hasn’t arrived yet. Instead, look inside the death-machines people take for granted and notice how many of them aren’t even looking at the fucking road. It’s insane. We are in full control of the 3,500 pound exoskeletons, and our perceived invincibility shields us from any hesitation to avoid looking at where we’re going. I’ve become an incredibly distracted driver because I’m busy looking for justification for my anger at how many distracted drivers there are. Not that smartphones started distracted driving (I once saw a guy driving down the highway in a giant moving truck with a porno magazine stretched across his steering wheel), but they sure made it easier. Now everyone’s trying to catch Pokemon while they tweet about the terrible traffic they are themselves causing because they don’t realize you can turn right on a red light.

Not only are people driving the cars constantly almost killing you, their actions from earlier in the day can kill you just as easily. Going camping? Might as well bring half your house with you. It’s no problem if there’s not enough room in your station wagon, just haphazardly tie your shit to the roof of the car because wind resistance is definitely not a thing when you’re going 70 miles per hour. And it’s not as far-fetched as some Final Destination Rube Goldberg sequence of events. I know the news is fake these days, but here are some examples.

Aside from that, here’s my own real-life example: I was driving down the highway in Indiana when I saw a piece of shit car in front of me. The bumper was barely hanging on and I said to my wife, “I’m going to get away from that car because I don’t want to get Final Destinationed by it.” I eased off the gas and let the piece of shit get a short distance in front of me. Another car pulls in between us and I thought we were safe. Then out of nowhere, another piece of shit car careens onto the highway and pulls directly in front of me. Guess what? His bumper was hanging on by a thread, too. I barely had enough time to say, “Look, another piece of shit car,” when the bumper detached from its perch and I found myself in a Die Hard situation. Like the goddamn champion I am, I ducked one way to avoid the bumper, which then pulled a Barry Sanders and cut back the opposite way which forced me to hammer the car back to the right. We avoided the bumper and for all I know the car behind me did a triple backflip and killed a family or two. I was too focused on the piece of shit car in front of me and wondering how someone would put other people in danger so carelessly.

And that pretty much sums it up. People don’t think about other people so you’re lucky if you don’t die every day. It’s good to find your own version of kicking over trashcans so you don’t end up in the fetal position and perpetually shaking from fear of the outside world. Because you know what? That’s totally warranted.