Curb Robbing Confidential

in FLOPS,Garden,Yard Yakking

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I saw one of my neighbors filling bags with mulched leaves and grass a couple of days ago as I was driving by.  He had a riding mower with a collection container in the back, and he was stacking the bags in an orderly fashion next to the curb.  They looked so good I made a mental note to come back later and get some of them.

I’m building a lasagna bed for pollinator-attracting flowers right next to my vegetable garden and I want lots of good greens and browns to layer over the fall and winter so it will be ready in the spring.

This morning I had the chance to get the bags so I drove up and parked right beside them.  I got out and opened the hatch of my station wagon and picked up the first bag.  Or tried to.

It was heavy.  It took every ounce of strength I had to hoist it up into the car. The leaves and grass were finely shredded, perfect for composting, but, boy did it make for one colossal, heavy bag.  It was thin plastic, too, and the sun had been warm and weakened the bag.  It tore a bit, but managed to stay together.

I should have listened to my better sense and quit while I was ahead.  But . . . there was plenty of room for another bag, and it was such good stuff.  I checked out the remaining bags, looking for a smaller one, but they were all monsters like the first one.  I grabbed one and slid it toward the road.  It was already tearing.  I thought for a second to leave it, but it was just too tempting.  I’ve never given up with one measly bag before.  I kept on.

It wasn’t looking good.  It was fighting me.  It was huge and unwieldy.  Every place I grabbed gave way and tore like tissue.  I tried to heft it, summoning an adrenaline rush, but it was collapsing all over me.  It was too late to quit.  I was beyond the point of no return and the fine leaf particles and dust were spilling all over the street, all over me, all over the hatch.

You’ve got to get in the car, I pleaded with it.  I was spluttering, grabbing, shoving, covered in dirt, trying not to breathe in the fine particles.  A good third of the contents was all over the road.

If this were a romance novel, this would be the point where the object of the heroine’s unrequited crush drives by and sees her half buried in leaves, smudged with schmutz and spitting debris out of her mouth.

But it wasn’t.

I was making a scene.  I couldn’t leave piles of leaves and a mangled bag right there in front of this person’s house.  I grabbed armfuls of the stuff and shoved it right in the back of the car, all over the place.  There was so much of it.  Finally the road looked reasonably clean.

Where were my keys?  Under all those leaves, of course.

I dug through the loose leaves trying to avert my face away from the cloud of dirt until I finally felt them.  I slammed the hatch door shut and got in the car as quickly as I could and sat there in the driver’s seat and tried to catch my breath.

Part of the aftermath

So, if you happened to have driven past some nut job scraping leaves off the road this morning with her hands, well, nice to meet you.



Formerly black pants

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

1 KeLLy Ann October 28, 2010

Thanks for the early morning laugh! That was Brill!

2 Karen Backman October 28, 2010

I wish we were neighbors. My life would be much more interesting.

3 Joan October 28, 2010

I have been known to do the same thing! That’s why I have a small pickup.

I have a cow manure source too!!!

4 Jennifer Lorenzetti October 28, 2010

Nice. I haven’t yet collected leaves put out for trash, but more than once we have seen those tempting bags of mulched leaves and commented, “we could take those off your hands for you….”

5 Matt October 28, 2010


You can never trust the clear bags. They’re oh so inviting, but nothing but trouble.

6 elsa October 28, 2010

oh, you are too cute! it’s exactly something I would do too! thanks for the giggle

7 Mary October 28, 2010

The important part of the story, is you scored some good stuff for your garden bed. You should see the looks we got driving through a major metropolitan area on the way home from picking up our Saanen doe. We built a livestock cage that fits in the back of our pickup, and you’d think some of these folks never saw a goat before. Most important, we got her home =)

8 Tanya Walton October 28, 2010

Oh lol…it’s good to know that this sort of thing doesn’t only happen to me. On the plus side once you have a nice clean car again you will have great mulch too.

By the way, what is a lasagna bed?? I’m intrigued!!

9 Linda October 28, 2010

Well, good for you! Not only did you get some good stuff for your bed, you cleaned up the mess!

Everyone reading here will agree, you are the best!


10 Tomato Lady October 28, 2010

Hi, Tanya–Here’s Mother’s take on it:

I still haven’t cleaned out the car yet, but I knew I was about to haul straw anyway. THEN, I’ll clean it. Maybe.

11 Christine October 28, 2010

Thanks for the giggle! (I keep a black garbage bag in my “way back.” It’s both liner and holder cause you never know what you may find :)

12 Lena R. October 28, 2010

Ah, the laugh that comes with the sigh of recognition and the feeling of empathy. Been there, done that, and yes, it’s a heavy, dirty mess! (But I continue to do it.) Thanks for sharing!

13 Lindsay October 28, 2010

Haha! If you’ve ever seen some nut job chasing down runaway cardboard boxes at sonic, it was very nice to meet you too :)

14 Lara October 28, 2010

I’m glad there are other people out there like me. Sometimes it’s like making chicken salad out of chicken ssssshhhh. . . well you get it. Love your blog. You inspire me with your mad mad wonderful world. thanks.

15 rose October 28, 2010

Oh, well I do hope you feel foolish. betcha $20, that particular neighbor would have driven the collection over for you: Here’s how it’s done: Time the drive or walk-by as he is placing it on the curb and smiled gently/sadly/confidingly and just mention that it would be so nice………and wahhlaa, he would drive it over for you just because he will probably have problems getting all those bags picked up because the collection service will only take so many per week and, he would make sure nothing nonorganic would be inside……just ask, people can be kind. but this way IS funnier.

16 Phyllis October 28, 2010

Think of the grief you saved the poor garbage man when he came to pick up those flimsy plastic bags full of yard waste. He would have left the mess on the curbside. Aren’t paper biodegradable yard waste bags required? PS, put a clip on your keys and always hook ‘em to your belt loop. Dorky but practical!

17 AuntiePatricia October 28, 2010

ivory, i love your stories. and yes, i suspect if you told your neighbor that you would LOVE to use his lawn clippings in your compost pile, he would be pleased to bring them over. :) you are SO cute. :) you write wonderfully.

18 Lu Ann October 28, 2010

omg i love your blog bc i love your writing and experiences. i can see this kind of experience happening to me, oh so very much. yet i would be ridiculously clammed up. you’re awesome! thanks for sharing your ‘fun’ with the world.

19 elsa October 29, 2010

That sounds like me…glad not to be the only nut. But that stuff sure is good for your garden so after all it was worth it.

20 Victoria October 29, 2010

Oh what a good laugh, only because I could see myself doing the same thing. You might want to invest in a piece of heavy plastic for the back of the car or maybe take your own bags so you could empty half the contents into another bag. Surely this will be your best garden ever and the heftying, gathering, lost keys and all will pay off.

21 Sue October 29, 2010

I am just laughing so hard. I have to say that I really admire a person who would clean up the spillings. There are so many people who would just leave it and that is wrong. You are a good person Charlie Brown.

22 lisa mertins October 31, 2010

i am so glad to know i’m not the only one that eyeballs other people’s yard refuse! our neighborhood is home to age-old live oak trees. under most of them is a gorgeous layer of oak leaf mulch but on neighbor’s property. i’ve not gotten up the guts to ask if i can come along with my wheelbarrow and shovel to “clean up under their trees.” thanks for this tale, now i’m gonna brave it!

23 Melissa October 31, 2010

How funny. I so enjoyed the story. You know my Dad used to be an insurance salesman. He was always bringing home things that he was sure he could fix up to use. He occasionally came home with some real good items, but his favorite was lawnmowers. After he passed away we found all these lawnmowers (parts of) hidden all over the place. We did get a good laugh over his antics. I do believe that one persons trash (no pun intended) is anothers treasure and you did find an awesome treasure for your beds. I can not wait to see the fruit of your hard won labor. Have a blessed day.

24 Kris November 1, 2010

Such a funny story! I can definitely see myself doing the exact same thing! Thank you for the laugh!

25 Handful November 1, 2010

The picture IS worth a thousand words! It’s all been said already. LOL – tx for sharing… and I will read more about the lasagna garden!

26 Tomato Lady November 13, 2010

Hi Laura D.– I get a Page Not Found when I click the link. Is it a password only site?

27 LaRee November 19, 2010

That is hilarious! I always ask first. I figure if I’m too chicken to ask, its not worth it right? Usually the worst they could do is say ‘no’. Ever since I read this the day you posted it I’ve been wondering if perhaps he had something else lined up with them, maybe another neighbor already asked or something. I have been on the other end of a similar stick and now I like to think of different perspectives, though I am usually wrong in all of them…. :)

28 Melissa April 12, 2012

Lol! I did this ONCE! I got the bags home ok, but…. When I started emptying and spreading the contents out I noticed this nasty smell… They were full of doggy doodoo! Gag! Not what I had envisioned!

29 Ryan Michelle May 29, 2012

I would love to know more about this “lasagna bed for pollinator-attracting flowers”…

We currently have lilacs ALL over the place (and I mean, HUGE bushes) at the house we rent, but my friend informed me that they do just about zero for pollinators. Thoughts/suggestions/in the mood share some good info ;O)


30 Julie Tait February 22, 2013

Love this story! I am a bit of a’collector’ myself, which is how I have ended up with a tarpaulin laid out in the back of my car for months ;-)

31 Shannon July 13, 2013

How about stashing a big burlap bag or some other tote in your car, like you do grocery bags? Then you’re ready to stuff the plastic bag in your own bag. Or- ding ding! Home Depot sells gigantic brown paper garden waste bags for cheap. they’re sold flat so it would be easy to keep in the back of your car.

32 Daisy July 13, 2013

Good idea, that would work!

33 Belinda January 24, 2014

I’ve been there and done that, too, lol. Imagine all my temptations: I’m a retired rural mail carrier! I’m inside the city limits where I live, we have pickup every two weeks for things like lawn debris and large items. Just last week, I brought home the drawers from a dresser. I would have brought the dresser, too, but I couldn’t get it in the car. :-( I have dreams of DIY projects with them, but they will probably sit in the basement till I drag them back to the street myself.

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