The small, river town in which I live has a wide cast of characters. The town, if I were down south of the Mason-Dixon Line, would be described as “Podunk”. Here in Wisconsin, small towns like these are described as “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” kind of towns, especially if you’re trying to speed along the highway (I don’t recommend it, though it does give the officers something to do). Many people here are related to each other and have deep roots in the area. DH and I moved here, and find many amusing curiosities of our chosen home.
The town doesn’t have trash collection, so where we are, outside the village limits, we could rent a dumpster (which we did for two years because the previous owners left THAT MUCH junk around), or we can haul all of our trash and recycling to the Town Hall and Garage every Saturday. Since DH and I have caught up with the majority of the previous owners trash, we haul our refuse off to the Town Hall and Garage, buying our punch card for bags of trash ($25 for a 10-punch card or $3.50/bag without) and sorting our recycling into rusted, dented 55-gallon drums with wooden signs nailed to the studs of the unfinished walls, declaring “Tin”, “Plastic”, “Blue Glass”, “Brown Glass”, “Green Glass”, “Clear Glass” and “Paper”.
Trash and Recycling morning is manned by a local who is on the town’s payroll for their work. Many years found the same person manning the station, a shortish, roundish man named Louis (related to my neighbor). Louis had some medical troubles and so the town hired a willing person to man the station, punch the garbage cards, collect funds for trash, help the elderly unload their vehicles and sort everything for them if need be. I don’t know what the job pays, I haven’t looked it up, but through wind, rain, snow and the heat of summer, these fine folks give up half of their Saturday, man the station and keep the townsfolk moving like a well-greased wheel.
The last few months have had a new person manning the station and the first time I arrived with my disposables and spoke to the gentleman, I did a lot of smiling and nodding. I barely understood a word he said and once I got back home I mentioned to DH how the new Trash Day worker was talking to me, but I could only smile and nod. I couldn’t even attempt to read his lips because of a bushy beard and mustache; these, added to his wild hair, lending him a sort of “Grizzly Adams” air. But I digress.
I laughed and told DH that the only thing I could think of when this very friendly man started to talk was of the character, “Boomhauer” from the animated series King of the Hill.
I’ve taken in the trash and recycling many times since then, and every time I think I pick up a few more words when he speaks. He’s a very cheerful man, so my smiling (and nodding) is genuine and I try to keep my confusion off my face. One day, maybe, I’ll be able to understand him completely.
Now, Readers – do you have any characters of note where you live?