I happened to be staring out of my bedroom window earlier when I spotted a well dressed lady rummaging through the wheelie bins on our back lane.
I was bemused.
We live in a nice part of town and so this was definitely not “normal behaviour” for a local resident to be engaging in.
Pretty filthy work I surmised, but was somehow able to justify this this as reasonable on the assumption that she was probably just a homeless person or a drug addict.
My second thoughts turned to self preservation.
Had I snipped up that expired credit card sufficiently?
Was my date of birth on anything?
The realisation and dread that my lazy attitude towards shredding could mean that my identity and savings could now be in the hands of a scoundrel kicked in.
My third thoughts were of anger.
Who the heck did she think she was going through “my stuff?”
Even if it was just garbage….
My fourth thoughts were of concern for material things.
Maybe she wasn’t on the steal. Had she lost something precious? Had her engagement ring dropped off when she was putting the bins out? Or that all important treasure map scribbled on the corner of a newspaper?
All I know for sure is that this lady was frantic. I mean really rummaging like her life depended on it. And maybe it did.
Yet still I did nothing.
But make negative assumptions.
Rightly or wrongly (and I’m still not sure), I just let her get on with it.
She hadn’t spotted me and so I moved away from the window to protect her dignity.
Or was it my shame.
I had made assumptions about her and I was starting to feel embarrassed for myself.
As I walked away, I started wondering about what my rubbish bags would lead her to assume about me.
What am I
I stood on the pedal and looked into my bins: empty makeup palettes, wine bottle, contact lens blisters, receipts, gourmet food packaging, clothes labels…
My empties tell the story of privilege, family life, comfort, full bellies and clinking glasses.
As readers of this blog, you probably gather little snippets of my “metaphorical” rubbish and form opinions about what I might be like.
I wondered if I present in person the same as I do online, or whether I’m different in the flesh to how people imagine me to look or be.
I wondered if people are disappointed, pleasantly surprised, or completely indifferent in terms of the facts about my lifestyle as presented in black and white.
I wondered what this woman would think of me if I went down to see her.
Would she assume that I was just coming to shoo her away the same way I assumed she was up to no good.
As it happens, one of my
reasons excuses for not going downstairs was that I was physically unable to leave the flat at that moment.
Admittedly, if I could have gone down, I probably wouldn’t have done.
This is most likely due to the general societal fear of becoming that Good Samaritan found bleeding to death on the street.
This bothers me.
My assumptions and fears about this woman raking through my bin bother me.
I wondered whether someone would come to my assistance irrespective of unwelcome societal assumptions about what being homeless, drug addled, or missing something (whether physically or in mind) means.
I wonder about this lady still.
What do your empties say about you? Would you have gone down?