Saturday, May 05, 2007

Not Always What You're Expecting

My third novel, The Useless Detective, was published a week or two ago. You should buy a few copies. You won't, but you should.

Anyway, as part of the deal with iUniverse, I was supposed to get five copies of the book. The shipment arrived the other day, but when I opened the box, I discovered that they sent me two copies of my book along with three copies of someone else's book. I informed them of the error, and they said they would take care of it, and I'm sure they will, but for some reason it reminded me of something else that happened to me not too long ago.

The city I live in contracts with a private company to collect the trash and recyclables and "greenwaste." In case you don't know this, "greenwaste" is stuff like dead plants, tree branches, and grass clippings. And of course, you need separate containers for trash, recyclables, and greenwaste so they don't all get mixed together. You have to buy your own garbage containers, but you can get the greenwaste and recycling containers from the company free for the asking.

My needs are very simple, so I rarely have any garbage to throw out. But every week, I accumulate about half a container's worth of stuff to recycle. One night about a year ago, it was raining, so when I took the recycling container to the curb, I put the lid on to keep all the old newspapers from getting soggy. But the next day, after they emptied the container, I couldn't find the lid anywhere. So I called up the company and asked them if they could give me a new lid.

They told me they couldn't do that -- they could only give me a lid and a container, but if I left the old container at the curb the next time they were scheduled to pick up the recycling, they'd replace it with a new container and a new lid. So about a week later, I left it at the curb.

They did give me a new container and lid, but they didn't pick up the old container, so I ended up with two containers and one lid. A few days later, however, I happened to notice a spare lid lying in my neighbor's front yard, so I took it. I now had two recycling containers and two lids, so I was happy.

A couple of months ago, I had my front yard landscaped, so now I have a grass lawn. From an environmental standpoint, this probably isn't the best idea, since it's only a matter of time until the Earth turns into a giant desert, and when that happens the grass in my front yard will certainly die, but that's a risk I'm prepared to take. And in the meantime, of course, the lawn needs to be mowed regularly.

The gardener who did the landscaping comes by to mow the lawn whenever the mood hits him, and when he does, he empties the grass clippings into the greenwaste containers. The only problem is, all those grass clippings are pretty heavy, and the greenwaste containers are sort of old, so the first time I tried lifting them to take them to the curb, they started cracking and tearing near the handles.

I managed to get them to the curb, but the next day I called up and asked for some new greenwaste containers. The woman I spoke to asked me how many I wanted, and I told her four.

She told me to take the two old greenwaste containers to the curb the next time they were scheduled to pick up the greenwaste, and they'd replace them with four new ones. So the following week, I took them to the curb, but they only gave me two new containers and they didn't remove the two old ones.

I called them the next day and told them what happened. The woman told me she was sorry for the mistake, but she'd correct the paperwork and if I left the two old containers by the curb the next time they were scheduled to pick up the greenwaste, they'd replace them with two new ones. Then she asked me if I needed any more recycling containers and I told her no, I already had two.

So a week later, I left the two old greenwaste containers at the curb, and when I got home the next day, I saw that they'd given me two new greenwaste containers and two new recycling containers. They hadn't taken away the old greenwaste containers, so now I have more containers than I could possibly ever need.

I don't really have a point in telling you all this, but if I did, it would probably be that you don't always get what you're expecting, whether it's a few greenwaste containers or a box full of books. So I'm hoping that when the new books are delivered, they'll be the right ones, but you never really know about these things until they actually happen.