An Unusual Landfill

One of the blessings I never thought much about is the USA system of disposing of trash.  Landfills may not always have the best aroma as you pass by them along a highway, but they are much better than what I have experienced on the street adjacent to our building in Natal.  The street has two lanes going in each direction with a median in the middle.  That does not sound at all unusual.  Many city streets in the United States have medians separating lanes.  And trees line the median, as is the case in America.

However, in this city, on a busy street, the median serves as a landfill.  About 100 yards from our apartment is a trash disposal area.  Yesterday morning I noticed that someone had dumped a washing machine and a fan for us all to observe.  Those objects were in the middle of what you would typically find in a landfill.

Interestingly enough, during the day someone had taken the washing machine and replaced it with a nondescript piece of junk.  For the three weeks I have been here, that location has received all kinds of discarded lumber, wire, and family garbage, as well as brush from nearby palm trees.  That was the first time I had ever observed that someone had exchanged pieces of trash.

One day I watched a man pick up a discarded cardboard box.  I thought, “Well, at least he is going to put the trash in the landfill area.”  No, he wanted the trash out of his space where he played dominoes with several other men.  Instead he threw it in the middle of the street away from him.  I guess any area that is not your personal space is appropriate for a trash collection area.

On another day, city workers in what looked like a flat bed garbage truck, stopped at the landfill area.  I thought, “Good, that trash is finally going to be picked up.“  One man got in the middle of the pile of trash and threw some pieces of old lumber on the flatbed.  Then he got back in the truck and drove away.

From what I can observe, no one seems to mind about the accumulation of trash; it is accepted as a way of life.

Probably people from Natal would look at the endless number of orange barrels that seem to dominate our highways and create traffic jams for miles and observe, “How do these people stand to have these ugly objects dotting the highway landscape?”  I guess we all have frustrations about our surroundings; we simply get used to them.

However, in the future, I plan to collect our household trash without complaint.  On Monday morning I will enthusiastically take the cans to the curb in anticipation of the garbage trucks picking up the trash and disposing of it in a well-kept landfill 30 miles away.


Steve Boyd
Steve Boyd
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. Steve won the Toastmasters International Speech Contest in 1970 and was chosen Outstanding Professor of the Year at NKU in 1984, among other awards and honors. Since retiring, he volunteers with nonprofits, spends time with family, travels, preaches occasionally, and enjoys reading and writing. Contact Steve at (859) 866-5693 or at

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