I had just finished my freshman year away at college, and I was back at home for the summer. It was getting late in the afternoon. Sitting on the couch, I was bored and trying to find something to do. The TV was on -- it was currently on the ESPN channel – which was broadcasting a rerun of SportsCenter that had been playing earlier that morning. I thought about playing some of my old PlayStation games again, but I decided not to as I had already beaten most of them and none of them really seemed to intrigue me to start a new game on. I started flipping through the channels to see what else was on, but there wasn’t anything good on, so I turned off the TV. I got up from the couch and walked over to the window. It was a cloudy day outside, but there were some peeks of sun. The temperature outside was nice and felt good as it was around 70 degrees – not too warm and there was very little humidity. The forecast called for rain later in the day though, which made my mood darken a bit since there had been so much rain recently and I had been unable to play basketball with my friends outside.
Out of the corner of my eye someone was putting garbage in their garbage bag outside of their house across the street. It made me remember about the times when I had hidden in the dumpster a few times when I was younger inside a large black garbage bag. I would tie the bag loosely closed and pretend I was garbage inside the bag. I would then wait to hear other people come by and throw their garbage in; them never knowing that inside one of those garbage bags in the dumpster was a person pretending to be garbage. I lived in a single-family home with the rest of my family, but also close enough to an apartment complex as well. The dumpster was literally a few minutes’ walk away from where I lived, so it was easy to get to. Luckily, the dumpster was inside an enclosure that surrounded the entire dumpster and the dumpster was in the very back of it, so I would be able to quickly get inside. I would get inside, try to quickly and quietly move a few of the bags that were already in there around, and then quickly get inside the large black garbage bag that I had carried with me stuffed into my pocket and tie it loosely closed. Then, all I looked like was a simple large black garbage bag that someone had tossed into the dumpster to be thrown away. I decided then and there that I would try it one more time for old time’s sake, and hell, I had nothing else to do or planned for the evening.
I walked into the kitchen and saw no one there. I opened the closet door and quickly pulled out a large black garbage bag from the box in the bottom of the closet. I closed the closet door and put the garbage bag into my pants pocket. Just as I started walking out of the kitchen, I heard my mom call me from upstairs somewhere.
“Matthew, is that you in the kitchen? Are you going to be home for dinner this evening?” she yelled.
It was around 3pm and the question made me pause. Was I going to be home for dinner or not? How long did I want to be in the dumpster? I made a quick choice and decided I wasn’t going to be so that I could have more time in the dumpster. “No Mom, I won’t be home for dinner… um, I’m going out with friends for dinner and I don’t know when I will be back...” I yelled back. Then I said the words that would later be my undoing – “Um, I think I’m going to stay over at one of my friend’s tonight… you know, Tom’s apartment… maybe for the weekend too. We’ll probably get pizza and such as well as play video games… you know, the usual… so I’ll let you know later when I’ll be back home.” I held my breath and waited for my mom’s response.
“Okay honey, take care of yourself and enjoy your weekend!” she replied. “Nice job on getting on the honor roll again this semester too!” she yelled with pride in her voice. “Don’t have too much fun and let me know when you are coming back home, okay?”
I had hung out with my friends a lot since we all graduated high school together. My mom had become quite laid back since I started college. I appreciated it, but I made sure that I reciprocated so that it could continue that way. As long as you told her what you were doing, where you were going, and gave her an idea of when you would be back home, she pretty much went with it and had no concerns. This was also helped along because I was pretty much a straight A student in high school and into my freshman year of college, along with the fact that most of my friends were on the same level as me grade wise (or “on the up and up” as my mom would say). Therefore, she had no problem with me hanging out with them or staying with them for long periods of time.
A few of my friends from high school even had their own apartments since they had moved out of living at home since starting college themselves. However, the three friends that I hung out with the most lived together and shared an apartment between the three of them. All four of us went to the same college that was located nearby, so we didn’t have to live on campus. Their apartment wasn’t super close to where I lived at home still, but it wasn’t super far away either. It was usually about a 15-minute walk from my house, but in the opposite direction of where I would be going now, which was toward the dumpster.
My mom knew this as well and had actually been to my friend Tom’s apartment some months earlier when I first told her I was spending the night there when I was on Winter Break from college – which is in December and January – right after finishing the Fall semester. She had wanted to make sure that I was telling the truth and to see the apartment for herself. She had been lightly chastising me ever since then, in a subtle, yet nice manner, as to when I was going to get my own apartment. Ever since she had visited his, well, their apartment and saw how nice it was, she didn’t mind me going over there and doing whatever because she figured that I couldn’t, well, more like wouldn’t, get into any trouble with them at their apartment. For we were all “good kids” and we all wanted to go on and do great things when we finished college – at least, that’s what we told each other all the time.
“Thanks Mom, uh, see you later!” I yelled back and walked out the door, closing it behind me as I left.
The clouds had cleared up some by the time I had walked outside, and the sun felt good on my face. It had warmed up a little bit more, but the humidity was very low. This made it feel a bit cooler than it actually was, which was nice, since the weather usually was hot and humid where I lived in the summertime. There was a bit of a breeze as well, nothing too strong, but enough that you could feel it when you were walking. I turned the corner onto the street from our driveway and continued walking at a brisk pace. After reaching the end of that street, I turned right and proceeded to walk down a long parking area. The parking area was long and wide since the apartment complex was pretty large – it had over 100 apartments. There were a few dumpsters in the front and a few in the back as well, but the one I was looking for was right by the street entrance. I walked over and opened the gate that surrounded the dumpster. I closed it behind me quickly. I pretended to throw some garbage into the dumpster – at the same time, I looked inside. It was probably about halfway full, enough that I could blend in with the garbage already in there. I took a long look behind me and listened. I didn’t want to get caught or have someone see me getting into the dumpster. I waited for what seemed to be minutes and then decided to get in.
I pushed the door open and quickly got in. Continuing to move quickly, I moved a few of the lighter bags of garbage and cleared out an area near the back corner of the dumpster. I then took the garbage bag that I had placed in the pocket of my pants out and opened it. Again, I quickly opened the large black bag, got inside it, and then sat down in the corner inside the bag. I tied it loosely closed and waited. Now all I looked like was a large garbage bag that was inside the dumpster. No one would know that inside one of the bags was me, pretending to be garbage.
It wasn’t long before a few people started coming by to throw away their garbage. I would hear the gate open and the lid to the dumpster open numerous times. Early on, it would often be just one small bag here or a small bag of trash there. As it got later in the afternoon though, I would begin to hear more cars pulling up to the dumpster – likely the people who lived in the apartment complex bringing out their garbage from the week. It had been a little while and I was sitting in the corner in my bag when a truck pulled up and the lid to the dumpster was opened again. In came a large black garbage bag and it landed with a thud in front of where my bag was. Then another came flying in and landed in the same place next to me on my left. Finally, a third bag was tossed in and joined the first two. I heard the lid to the dumpster close and then the gate close as well.
I waited till I heard the truck beginning to drive off before taking a quick peek out of my bag. When I looked out, I saw that the area that I had cleared around my bag when I got into the dumpster was now full of garbage bags. The dumpster was also getting full, and the only area that wasn’t full or stacked up high with garbage bags was the area where I was – in the back-right corner of the dumpster. I was thinking about trying to move the bags next to me onto the others or perhaps try to push them a little bit further away from the garbage bag I was in. However, before I could do anything, I heard another car pulling up to the dumpster. I quickly re-tied the garbage bag I was hiding in and tried not to make any noise. I was totally unprepared for what happened next.
The car pulled up to the dumpster and I heard the gate open. I heard the lid open and bang as it was opened fully. Suddenly, I heard a voice that made my blood run cold.
“Phew, there’s an open spot in this dumpster in the corner… good thing there is because we have a lot of garbage bags to be thrown out from the house. We’ll throw out our garbage in this dumpster, honey.” It was my mom and dad. I hadn’t even thought about them throwing out their garbage, and I had completely forgotten we had just cleaned the house from top to bottom earlier in the week. I could only sit inside my bag in fear as I heard the car back up right next to the dumpster. This made it easier so they wouldn’t have to carry the garbage bags and could toss them straight into the dumpster.
I heard the first bag get tossed in. I could feel it land next to my bag. The second bag landed on top of mine, pressing the top of my bag down. After the next two bags were tossed in, I realized that my bag had been covered by the garbage bags on top of the one I was hiding inside of. I began to get scared that I was going to end up buried at the bottom of the dumpster. My parents kept tossing in more and more garbage bags and I felt the weight increase on top of me. Finally, the garbage bags stopped being tossed in. I could barely hear anything, and I realized too late that I was now stuck at the bottom of the dumpster inside my garbage bag. I faintly heard the lid close and my parents get into their car and drive off. I could barely move inside my bag and I sat and thought about what I was going to do next.
I tried to push upward inside my bag, but the weight above me was heavy. The garbage bags were pressing down on top of mine and I realized that I was going to be stuck in here for a while. I figured that I would try later on when it was night and people were sleeping to try to get out of the dumpster. Less people out and about and less chance to get caught by someone getting out of the dumpster I thought.
Meanwhile, I tried to wrap my head around what had just happened. My parents had just basically buried me underneath a bunch of garbage bags inside the dumpster. But they didn’t know that – all they saw was a black garbage bag sitting in the corner with no garbage around it – and they threw in all of their garbage bags on top of it. For all they knew, there was just a bunch of useless garbage inside that bag. For what else would be inside of it? Who cares if it got crushed or buried in the dumpster by them throwing their garbage bags on top of it -- it was garbage to be disposed of. There was nothing of importance inside of that bag anyway, for if there was, why would it be in the dumpster?
I struggled to reconcile this in my mind. While doing so, I continuously tried to move the bags on top of me to the side, but they would barely move. I realized after a while of trying to move the bags over and over that I was stuck in here. Stuck as garbage inside a garbage bag. Inside a dumpster. Where garbage is supposed to be until it’s taken away. What was supposed to be a few hours of would-be fun of pretending to be garbage inside a garbage bag inside a dumpster had turned into a stark reality. I was garbage inside a garbage bag. That’s what I had become hiding in here and that’s what I now was. There was nothing I could do about it, nothing I could do at the moment to change that.
While stuck in my bag, I had a thought that quickly filled me with hope. My parents would miss me at dinner, realize I was missing, and come look for me and try to find me. Or somebody would. As I played that scenario out in my head, I began to realize how stupid it sounded. Why would my parents even think to look for me inside a garbage bag? One that was being crushed inside a dumpster by the bags on top? They had no idea about my fetish of hiding inside garbage bags inside the dumpster – no one did -- so there was no chance that they or anyone else would even think to look there. In addition, I had told my mom that I would be gone all weekend, so they wouldn’t even be looking for me until next week at the earliest.
My mood turned to one of fear and panic realizing that this was likely going to be where I would be for the entire weekend. Stuck inside a garbage bag at the bottom of a dumpster. People would be coming by to empty their garbage into the dumpster during the entire weekend, never knowing that deep inside the dumpster in one of the garbage bags was me. I was just garbage now, nothing more. I sat there in my tied garbage bag and tried to figure out what I was going to do for the hours to come. But, unfortunately, the decision would soon be made for me.
Hours later, a car pulled up to the same dumpster that I was stuck deep inside in. Two people got out. I couldn’t hear it, but it was my dad and youngest sister. They had gone out for ice cream and were throwing out their garbage into the dumpster when she asked what happened to the garbage in the dumpster. She had seen the garbage from the house being thrown out into garbage bags, but she wanted to know what happened after. As they got back into the car, my dad smiled at her and began to explain.
“Well honey, first, remember all of the garbage that you had when you cleaned your room earlier today? Well, we put it into the large garbage bag in the garage. When that bag is full of garbage, we tie it closed and bring it to the dumpster here to be thrown away,” he said. “All of the garbage then gets emptied out of the dumpster and into a large garbage truck and is then taken away by the large garbage truck to the landfill.”
Before he could get any further, a large garbage truck came rumbling down the street. It pulled into the apartment complex and began to drive up to the first dumpster in the complex, which was the one I was currently stuck in.
Seeing his daughter looking on with excitement, he watched as the garbage truck pulled up to the first dumpster and began to raise it up so that it could be emptied into the back of the truck.
I was nodding off inside my garbage bag when I felt a jolt and a large bang. Suddenly, the dumpster began to rise up off the ground. I realized too late that it was the garbage truck and it was here to collect all of the garbage bags from inside this dumpster. I began to try to scream but the noise of the dumpster being raised up and the engine of the garbage truck drowned out my voice and made any attempt of mine to let someone know I was stuck inside one of the garbage bags useless. The garbage truck raised the dumpster up to its highest point and began to empty it. I felt the garbage bags that had been on top of mine fall into the garbage truck below, and then I felt my tied bag begin to fall. I screamed but there was no way anyone could hear me inside my bag. I felt my bag land inside the garbage truck on top of the other bags in there. The dumpster was banged twice, and then lowered back down and put back on the ground in the enclosure. The garbage truck backed up and moved on to the next dumpster needing to be emptied.
Outside, my dad started the car and got ready to drive back home. My sister had watched the first dumpster being emptied into the garbage truck, and she enjoyed it a lot. She watched the next dumpster get picked up and get emptied as well into the garbage truck. As my dad drove back home, she waved to the garbage truck from the window. “Bye bye garbage!” she said and laughed.
If they had watched closely, they would have seen one of the final black bags to fall out of the dumpster into the garbage truck was the bag I was stuck inside of. When my parents had thrown away all of the garbage bags into the dumpster a few hours earlier, they had no way of knowing that the garbage bag they buried in the bottom of the dumpster held me inside. But why would they have even thought about that anyway?
My bag was on top of the garbage bags in the dumpster, but it ended up being pushed into the bags below as the bags moved about. I couldn’t move at all. I heard the next dumpster being picked up and the light above me turned into darkness as I realized that the next dumpster was being emptied – on top of me. I felt the garbage bags fall on top of mine and then darkness returned. A faint banging noise was heard to make sure that the entire dumpster was empty of its garbage, and the dumpster was put back in its place.
Right after, the truck began to pull out of the apartment complex. I knew I was screwed, but I was stuck and couldn’t even move. I heard a loud noise and realized that the compactor had been turned on. I felt an increase in pressure as all of the garbage bags, including mine, were being pressed together tightly. The pressure continued to ratchet up and my bag continued to be crushed along with the other bags. Finally, the compactor stopped. But it was too late for me, as my bag had already been crushed deeper inside the truck and I began to fade out of consciousness.
As the garbage truck moved on to pick up other dumpsters full of garbage, my last thoughts were that I really was just garbage inside a garbage bag now. I was nothing else. No one would ever find me or know what happened to me. By the time I would have been put up as missing, I would already be buried deep in the local landfill along with all of the other garbage bags filled with garbage. For that’s what happens to trash in a dumpster.