Some people spend time beautifying their yards because it’s relaxing. I spend time in my yard cleaning up trash, and it’s anything but relaxing.

To preface this story, let me just say the trash is NOT mine.

A couple years back I bought an “as is” house. If you don’t know, that means the seller does absolutely nothing in the line of repairs or cleanup for the sale. After watching many home improvement TV shows, silly me in a moment of DIY said, “I can fix it! That was definitely a memorable life moment, also known as a valuable learning experience, but that’s another whole story in itself (I’m actually writing a book about it).

As for the backyard…

When I first moved in, the backyard was atrocious. It had over grown weeds, it hadn’t been mowed in who knows when and it looked horrible.

Did I mention the pig pen that was there?

Yes, a literal pig pen was in the yard. But that wasn’t the only thing. 

One day as I was working outside, my new neighbor thanked me for cleaning up my yard. She told me about how the old residents didn’t care (obviously) about how it looked. One of the things mentioned to me was how the former owners didn’t have trash service because they couldn’t afford it. I was told they not only burned their trash, but they also often buried it. Keep in mind the house is in the city, not a rural plot out in the middle of nowhere.

As I raked and mowed, I found lots of bottles (beer, wine, vodka, whiskey and others) and plenty of broken glass. There were more broken bottles than I could count, and they were all over the yard, some obvious, and some partially buried. The neighbors also informed me the previous owner was a raging alcoholic. Oh, how nice!

For the safety of my dog, I picked up as much as I could. But it seemed every time I picked stuff up, more would appear the next time I went outside. This happened quite often. At one point, I was convinced someone was coming into my yard and dumping garbage and glass. Then I realized something.

EVERY time it rained, something new would wash up in the yard.

Nearly two years into owning the house, this still happens. I go outside after it rains and find assorted things poking through the top soil. I’ve found some interesting stuff though. Aside from the usual random household waste and plentiful shards of glass, I’ve found a virtual thrift shop of goodies

I’ve discovered toys, Christmas ornaments, an assortment of tools, bullets, nails (lots), random metal pieces of things I couldn’t identify, an African blow gun (no darts though), a leaf blower, pool sticks, books, clothing, plenty of cans, a bunch of light bulbs, a couple of old cell phones, a parachute, a cat kennel, and my personal favorite, a car windshield.

The car windshield was great, because when it started to surface I used my shovel to dig it out and wouldn’t you know, it was only partially intact because the safety glass had shattered into a million pieces. If you’ve never had safety glass shattered in your yard, let me tell how easy it is to pick up all the pieces – it’s NOT.

This list is not all inclusive of the things I’ve found.

As entertaining as that all sounds, it’s really not that fun. And as for the trash, most of it was pretty much degraded, but it’s still fairly disgusting. While I don’t often cuss, the things I’ve said out there would make a drunken sailor blush.

The best part was the trash heap in the back corner that was about 4 feet high, by maybe 15 feet long. The nice people didn’t just make a pile. They got creative and built a temple to the trash gods. First, trash was buried. Then a sheet of plywood was laid down with more trash on top of it. Then, a foot or so higher a tarp was laid, and more trash was piled on along with another layer of dirt. Another foot or so higher, another tarp was laid and (wait for it), more trash was laid with more dirt. 

But the next level was different. This time, multiple garden hoses (yes, garden hoses) were laid as the festive topping, Intertwined with the garden hoses was the parachute I found with plenty of dirt thrown on top of it. Going through this from the top down was very much like an archeological dig. I was never quite sure of what I’d find, though I was hoping for money and treasure, while fully expecting a body, or at least an animal, but no such luck on any of those.

Finally, I think I’ve removed at least the most obvious trash burials I could find around the yard, but I doubt it’s done. As soon as it rains again it’ll probably be out doing my yard patrol again, just as I always do.

While my story has some elements of humor, it’s really pretty sad that anyone would live that way. What they did was not only stupid, it was also blatantly illegal and dangerous. They may not have cared about who had to clean it up, but they too had kids and pets who played in the yard. I can’t help but wonder if they ever sustained any injuries.

I’ve often thought about reaching out to them to ask what the hell they were thinking living like disgusting idiot savages, but I’m over it now. Or, at least I’m over wanting to punch the guy in the face if I ever saw him (I think).

Perhaps when I’m done remedying my environmental disaster I can then start trying to be like everyone else and actually plant some flowers or something.

~ Marty ~


Marty is a Kansas City based writer and purveyor of shenanigans.

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