Suburban Hell: The Inorganic Rubbish Collection


Turb’d up for a fast exit

In my corner of suburbia, we are having the three-yearly rubbish collection of inorganic things that we collected free from the last curbside dumping and no longer require.

It’s actually stressful.

Ordinary rubbish day for most white New Zealanders is the apex of the working week.  Everywhere, on every street, there are clacky heels, striding the cold bitumen driveways to get the bins out on time.  There is side-eye and derision over who should should do it. Mum? Or Dad?

Some people on my street wheel their bins to the other side, because they do not want the ugly plastic symbols of waste excretion in front of their own housing.

Others meaningfully wander to the nearest bin and expose its innards to check whether it’s just their bin that hasn’t been emptied, or is it the whole street?

Some wait as the trucks swoop down and claw the helpless receptacles aloft, dumping the week’s worth of refuse into the abyss of rate-payer machinery.  They then whip the bins inside the gate, because you never know, someone may grab the wrong bin and then it’s an awkward late-night reconnoitre to retrieve the lost property.

But the inorganic brings even greater strangeness and xenophobia, for the people in the Other Towns emerge in their Bongo Wagons early, to graze on the trash of the wealthy, picking through for copper, wire, electrics, anything that could be resold; and toys, carpets, linen baskets.

At 5am the wagons ride again, snug along the road gutter, doors opening and grasping the not-working lamps and the mould-spotted occasional chair.

And then the council men come, and the homeowners stand in their driveways, hands on hips, as grateful as if Churchill had visited during the Blitz. Real problems. Gone.

The thing we wanted rid of for the last two years but couldn’t be fucked paying for a trailer; sorted.

It always rains on inorganic weekend.  The sodden carpets loaded up; the wagons fly off and await the next treasure drop, in the next suburb.


More reading about rubbish bins and the long-term effects of this compliance paradigm here.

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