Until yesterday, you would have been justified in calling us white trash. We’d had a green wheelbarrow full of rocks and weeds sitting in the corner of our driveway for at least a year, visible to everyone who drove by. Pieces of industrial plastic were embedded under the rocks and protruded awkwardly from the sides. The wheelbarrow had been there so long that it had created its own biosphere, and despite the drought affecting the rest of the state, gangly weeds grew from the top of it, lording it over the crisp brown azaleas nearby.
It wasn’t that we were unaware that the wheelbarrow was enormously repulsive. Last summer we left it out by the street for the garbage men to pick up, to no avail. They ignored it for a few weeks and then stuck a sign on it that said “This isn’t trash or garbage.” We took that to mean they wouldn’t be handling it and with difficulty we managed to nudge in into the corner where it sat, undisturbed, for months.
At Christmas I wanted to string the wheelbarrow and weeds with tiny white lights, but Bill said we had enough lights already and decorating weeds was not in the plans. He was just plain wrong about that, because you can never have too many white twinkly lights at Christmas, but in the interests of marital harmony I held off.
One day while he and the boys were playing basketball in the driveway, Bill went running for the ball and tripped over the wheelbarrow and came inside cussing.
“What the hell do we have to do to get rid of that damn wheelbarrow?” he asked.
I didn’t have any idea.
“If someone could come up with a way to get that thing out of here, I’d be the happiest man in the world,” he said, and he went back outside to finish the basketball game.
Bill’s not a hard man to buy gifts for. He loves for other people to buy him clothes, and he swims, bikes, and runs, so there’s always some kind of equipment he wants that will make him more aerodynamic while he does his thing.
But this year while I was mulling over Father’s Day, the wheelbarrow caught my eye just as one of those 1-800-GOT-JUNK trucks rode by.
You know how we wonder where customer service has gone? I found it. It’s riding around in those trucks.
The truck showed up about thirty minutes after I called, and two nice men loaded up the wheelbarrow. That didn’t meet the minimum load of $100, so I had them collect some rusty paint cans and three tombstone-size concrete slabs that came with the back yard when we bought the house.
I got to talking with the driver, and he said they’ll pick up pretty much anything, and it doesn’t have to be accessible– they’ll climb around in your attic or basement and get junk out for you.
I was going to wait until Father’s Day and put a bow on the empty space in the driveway where the wheelbarrow had been, but Bill got home from work and freaked out in his own way, which is to say he smiled and asked where the wheelbarrow had gone.
I just told him “Happy Father’s Day’ and gave him a big smooch and then we made googly eyes at each other and then….
Well, I’ll just say I’ve never gotten hot and bothered over a wheelbarrow before.