City’s can-do spirit evident in trash-can swap

Once in a while, the Action Line’s infamous Mea Culpa Mailbag offers an irresistible story. This is one of those times.

Our saga begins with last week’s column about the ongoing Durango bear study and a reader wondering what’s the point of studying the effect of bear-proof trash cans when some people store their garbage inside garages.

This prompted another reader to relate a tail of trash can travails. The reader asked to remain anonymous, so let’s call her “Reece Ceptacle.”

“I doubt if it’s worthy of inclusion in the Mea Culpa Mailbag, but the city can indeed tell who stores their trash can in the garage, because that is where the city went to get ours to trade for a bear-safe one,” Reece laments in an email.

The bizarre backstory: In January, Reece asked the city for a replacement trash container. It was delivered, but “it had several inches of liquid ick in the bottom,” Ms. Ceptacle writes.

“It was dead o’ winter and our hoses and outdoor spigots were winterized and not usable. So I rolled the offending can to a car wash and cleaned it,” she said.

“You have zero dignity rolling a dirty trash can over snowy roads through the neighborhood to a car wash. Even the homeless people pushing shopping carts are saying, ‘Dang, that’s sad.”

Anyway, the weirdness continues.

“Then several weeks ago, with no advance notice, city workers entered our garage and took that can away and left a bear-proof can. Many phone calls were made, all promised to ‘look into it’ and call back. Still waiting for those calls,” Reece’s email says.

“The wildlife office eventually called to explain the bear facts, which was lovely, but missed the point entirely. The city. Came. Into. Our. Garage.”

Is this the end of the can caper? Hardly. Reece continues: “Now our bear-can went AWOL. A police report had to be filed, and a replacement trash can was requested. None came. We are now in Week Two with no trash can.”

With garbage piling up in the garage, our crestfallen correspondent anticipates a reality-show cameo.

“I regret that the next step may be 15 minutes of fame on an episode of ‘Hoarders,’” she says.

As it turns out, Reece Ceptacle’s detention of deleterious detritus wasn’t due to duty dereliction.

When Action Line called the city to plead the case, crews already had dropped off a new bear-proof container at her west Animas City abode.

“There was a delay because we lacked some components to finish constructing the bear-proof cans,” said our friend Roy Peterson, the city’s director of operations. “It was our fault for not communicating that to people waiting for the cans, and we apologize for that.”

And regarding the garage interloper incident, Roy winced. “We clearly instruct our workers not to enter garages. We would never, ever open a garage. I’ll talk to the crews.”

What happened is that Reece Ceptacle’s garage was wide open the day of the trash-can switcheroo. Contractors were working inside the garage doing a remodeling project and they must have OK’d a quick swap.

So here you have some construction guys just trying to be helpful and city workers just wanting to be efficient.

No good deed goes unpunished. It’s a comedy of errors that can be boiled down thusly:

When city can crews have undue can-do attitudes, they can get into doo-doo from you-know-who.

Meanwhile, there is only one logical conclusion to this story.

It turns out that the government doesn’t want to confiscate your guns, it merely wants your garbage can.

Perhaps this will inspire a Compost Tea Party movement.

Email questions to or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if you can explain why we refer to trash cans as “cans” despite the fact they’re made of plastic.

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