Bin Night. A sacred Aussie tradition. At any given time, it's Bin Night somewhere in Australia. The unmistakable, thunderous sound of wheelie bins fills the late-night air as thousands of Aussies, just about to go to bed, say "Oh f**k, it's Bin Night."
Occasionally I am woken by the garbage truck coming down the street at 6am, and I do a wild-haired dash, dragging bins -- stuffed full to ensure maximum noise to draw attention from the neighbours -- to the footpath. Despite being rudely ripped from my sleep to perform the most boring of chores, I am grateful. How lucky are we that we have curb-side rubbish collection every week? Many countries do not have such an organised, reliable system.
Usually, I manage to ensure my weekly waste is not wasted thanks to being greeted by neat rows of my neighbours' bins when I drive into my street on Bin Night. Thanks, neighbours, for having your sh*t together earlier than me. But then, it is those very neighbours that make Bin Night high stakes. Full of risk.
My understanding is that it's an unspoken agreement among good neighbours that their bin can be used if yours is full on Bin Night. I certainly feel that way -- what difference does it make to me; my bin is on the curb, and you don't want yours to be overflowing and attract pests. But it does present one issue for me, because I care so much about creating a perfect image of myself that it extends to the appearance of my trash.
Every time I put something in my wheelie bin during the week, I presume it will be visible to a neighbour. So I carefully shred things like my "Frenemies I Don't Want at My Funeral" list (after I've sent a screenshot of it to my sister), and cover the Maccas and KFC bags with the wrapping from Eco-friendly toilet paper, lest I be judged.
Which is why, when I noticed recently that a neighbour had overnight placed their own Maccas remnants in my bin, with the Golden Arches glistening in the morning sun because the lid didn't close completely, clear for every neighbour to see, I almost died. Because I actually eat Maccas occasionally, but now everyone would know my dark secret. The injustice of it was overwhelming, because it wasn't even my rubbish -- I had been outed by someone else's trash.
I was in the midst of devising a dramatic, passive-aggressive text to the street saying "Please feel free to use my bin, but ensure the lid is closed because large rodents were swarming this morning" when I had a sudden flashback of being dropped home in the early hours of the morning, after scoffing a cheeseburger and large fries on the way home from a party...
Which brings me to the next thing that makes Bin Night a political situation; the neighbours who don't want your trash. I recall learning this the hard way about a decade ago, when I checked my letterbox and found a soggy electricity bill with the following words scrawled on it: "DO NOT EVER PUT YOUR RUBBISH IN MY BIN AGAIN YOU RUDE BITCH." Back then, I was a young woman who was humiliated by my obviously gross faux pas in putting a shopping bag's worth of waste into a neighbour's curb-side bin. So I wrote them an apology note, explaining that I'd recently moved so had some excess waste that fitted into their semi-full bin, and assured them that it wouldn't happen again.
Now that I'm forty and have finally embraced the fact that I'm actually an adult (despite being one for twenty-two years) I'd do things differently. I'd put the same soggy bill back into their letterbox with a note which said: "SEE YOU AT THE CHRISTMAS PARTY, NEIGHBOUR, AND I HOPE SANTA BRINGS YOU A LIFE."