Thursday, June 30, 2011

Great Things About Suburbia - Part 1

Oh I know, suburbia gets a bad rap: cookie cutter houses, vapid housewives, spoiled children, closet internet porn addiction; but there are many good, even great things about living in suburbia which I will periodically profile here.  Today I will speak to one of the lesser known perks of living here which is the ability to judge people by their recycling bin.

One of the cardinal rules of suburbia these days is that while we all speak to community, we really don’t want to associate with the people who live close to us.  The people who used to live across the street from us had 4 kids. You could have plastered myriad milk cartons and billboards with their mugs and I couldn’t have told you where they lived.   Its like the Truman Show.  Everyone has all the trappings of a family; a playset, lacrosse net, bikes in the yard, but you never see any kids, ever.  They don’t even wait at the bus stop.  They sit in their cars and emerge only when the bus pulls up.  Since everyone is cocooned in their house with their electronics, how can we know who we are living with? My friends, you can tell them by their recycling.  You can find out how much they paid for their house from Zillow. 

I enjoy walking my dog,  
because it keeps both of us fit, makes him sleep, and on Thursdays it allows me to peek into the private lives of our neighbors who unwittingly put their “business” out on the curb each week. 

There’s the couple who like to saunter around the neighborhood in the evenings, glasses in hand who predictably have a recycling bin full of Yellow Tail – big bottles! Oh how I envy their fortitude! If I did that, I'd be curled up in bed before America's Got Talent.

We have the couple who have a new baby (#3) who say “Oh everything is great” with a tight smile every time we see them, but the new stroller box surrounded by empty Corona and Yuengling cases belies that claim – they are outnumbered and understaffed. 

The kid who is always getting in trouble on the bus – bin full of Coke and Sunny D.

The house next door that seems to eat people and pets.  They have a 1st grader and a Golden Retriever who I have seen, literally 4 times since we moved in.  They have an invisible fence, for what I can only presume is an invisible dog.  Maybe the kid is a rental, I don’t know. What I do know is they get their trash picked up twice a week, but there never really seems to be anything in it. Spooky. 

There’s the Costco fans (as evidenced by the huge sized containers) and the divorced dude who you never see but is clearly drowning his sorrows. 

But the worst of all is the people with 4 trash cans and a recycle bin with like 2 milk jugs in it.  Makes me want to hire a raccoon,  

to make a hit on their garbage.


  1. This is a compelling reason to both move to suburbia and take up walking for fun. Here in the mountains, you have to haul your own trash and recycling, so you while you can tell when it has been a boozy holiday weekend, you don't know which neighbors are feeling the aftereffects.

  2. Like Daisy Rant, I too have to haul my own recycling down to the town dump, so can't partake in this oh-so-satisfying suburban pleasure. I've taken to judging my neighbors by peeking into their windows in the evening, when it's dark outside but their lights are on inside and curtains are usually open. It is incredibly fun to see how people decorate, to see what kind of crap they have in their houses, and even sometimes what they're watching on TV (also usually crap)! Suburban espionage at its finest!

  3. I had no idea people judged others by their recycle bins! We have to put ours in blue bags, now I know why. I'm going to inventory mine next Thursday...wonder what it will say about me?

  4. So funny---We had an invisible neighbor move out this past weekend. I knew zip about her except that she was painfully shy and would bury her head in her purse if I said hello. Anyhow, we share the same garbage bin corral (sp?) and due to her contribtions to the recycle bin, I felt like I "knew" her...Finesse (my shampoo too!), olive oil, and so on. AND knowing that my neighbors will see what is in OUR recycle bin once on the curb, I usually put the not-so-proud items at the bottom, like an empty bottle of Fanta.