Nailing the Back-up Move

tree light 113I’m sometimes of the misguided impression that I have some decent skills in backing my car up. Now that I have a smaller vehicle and feel somewhat smug at times in my ability to parallel park in tight city spots, I believe that this translates into being able to back up straight or adequately gauge space constraints. All of this is quickly laid to rest in one simple trip within my own small town, to our solid waste facility and recycling center (a.k.a. the town dump).

While I don’t often travel there these days, blessed instead with a series of sons who have taken over that task, there are times when it’s far more efficient to use two vehicles. This time of year is one of them, because like every other household in town, we accumulated a ton of trash due to the holidays, from wrapping paper remnants to lots of empty beverage bottles. ‘Tis the season for long lines at the dump, and having to plan out a solid chunk of time to make multiple trips, as my youngest son learned this past weekend. Offering up my vehicle as well this weekend, he plied the interior to capacity with cardboard and empty boxes, all of which have their own large window in the waste building, and loaded up the trunk with trash bags, which go into yet another window.

We waited in line for a good ten minutes as one car after the next backed its way into a spot in front of the building. It’s a process that runs like clockwork. With cars backed in, trunks open for unloading, things move along pretty fast, unless someone has items that are discarded in the recycling building, such as glass bottle, cans and unwanted household items that can be placed on tables for the townsfolk to take as they desire for their own use. I actually love this practice and have scored some cool things and many, many books over the years that others no longer wanted.

Finally, it was my turn to spin my car around and back in an empty spot. Easy enough, right? No real skill required – or so I thought (actually…so I always think). An older woman was in the midst of getting in her vehicle to my left. The truck to my right was making its move to pull out. With all the boxes in my backseat, my view wasn’t as unobstructed as it might have been otherwise. I could see the nervous look on the woman’s face as she quickly closed her car door – and yet, I hadn’t even made my real move yet. Meanwhile the truck was gone and my son just quickly eased in its place. Man, I suck at this.

I back gingerly in, albeit a bit close to the vehicle on my left, yet not even remotely close enough to hit the vehicle and I observe the nervous look has been replaced by sheer horror. Sweet jesus, she thinks I’m about to hit their car. Rolling my eyes, I pull forward to back in once again, quickly noting my son’s look of wonder (wonder about what the heck I was doing now, no doubt) as he sees how badly I managed to maneuver – or not – into the empty spot. The older woman must have told her companion to floor it as soon as I pulled forward again, because they were flying out of the parking lot before I even hit the gas to back up again. I pulled back in, quite straight at that, but yes, close to the parking space line on the left and got out of my car, ready to haul out the cardboard.

One can’t help but feel on display, however, during this, as the many cars in sight, waiting in line for their turn, are generally paying attention to what’s happening in the spots in front of the waste facility building. Those far more skilled at backing up than I appear to be are no doubt shaking their heads in either amusement or disgust – or perhaps that’s just my own paranoid assumption or a reflection of my own reaction when I see others like myself making their way into a spot. A man quickly backed into the spot next to me and got to work on his own trash removal. He managed to accomplish this in possibly three seconds.

I finished up my task and pulled back out, making my way home in a few minutes tops, reflecting on how easy it is to humble oneself doing the most mundane of chores. Living in NH, trash pick-up is a service one pays for and one that we’ve seldom made use of given that the recycling center is less than a mile away. While several people on my street do make use of trash services, it seems like everyone I know well has always taken care of their own trash disposal. It’s almost like a point of pride – and funnily enough, the town’s recycling center has been a source of information (and gossip), a place for politicking, where you often see Girl Scouts selling cookies in the winter months and so much more. It feels like a small-town NH tradition really – and a place where one often runs into people not often seen as the kids grow older and participation in many town activities is no longer prevalent.

And while I have lived in this town for close to 30 years, I still somehow have not mastered the waste facility back up, in spite of my best intentions. I may finally nail this thing – or simply visit the dump on less-busy weekdays.

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