I took out my neighbor's trash...

We are assigned big, 90 gallon trash cans in our neighborhood. You get one black one for trash which is picked up weekly, and one green one for recycling which is picked up every two weeks. Trash day is Thursday.

Last Thursday morning around 9 am, I was hauling out my trash cans and I noticed my neighbor across the street had not pulled his cans to the curb. Both his cans were overly full as the tops of both were propped open by trash. I assumed everyone had gotten off to work and school and that somehow their trash got neglected (They have 5 people in the family and everyone works or goes to school.), so I hauled his cans to the curb.

This is a friendly neighborhood and I can think of several instances of neighbors hauling neighbors cans in the 10+ years we have lived here, but I have never hauled a can for this particular neighbor.

Yesterday (Saturday), the husband came over to ask if I knew anything about his trash. I told him I had hauled it out. He told me that the trash had valuable stuff in it and now it is gone.

He told me that they had had company this week and that he had cleaned off his desk by swiping everything on top of it into a trash bag (he used his arm to make a sweeping motion) and set the bag aside. Then he said he (or another family member- I don’t recall) set the bag in the garage. Then he said one of his daughters moved the bag from the garage into the big trash can. Then his son put more trash on top of that bag. He said he knew the valuable bag was in the big can and he intended to get into the big can and dig his valuable bag out but hadn’t gotten around to it, was planning to come home during lunch and dig out the bag and haul the cans to the curb.

Then he said his son hauled the cans to the curb, but he told his son to bring them back because he had not yet retrieved the valuable bag.

Then he told me that bag contained 4 years of IRS records, “original documents” and his wedding ring.


Of course, I feel terrible about this and apologized sincerely and profusely about 5 times as the story carried on.

But, I don’t believe him.

As an added note, we are generally friendly and I give his daughter a ride home from school every day, but we don’t “hang out”.

Here are the reasons I don’t believe him:

  1. I was working Monday and off Tuesday and Wednesday. I didn’t see any company at his house. I don’t mind their business, but we live directly across the street from each other and our driveways occur in such a fashion that if one of us has visitors, it makes it difficult for the other to get in and out of the driveway.

  2. They are a bit clannish Jehova’s Witnesses and don’t socialize. I can hardly think of a time that they have had visitors.

  3. Why would someone sweep everything off a desk for visitors? I could understand if there were a party or large group so you could use the table space, but there was no party that I’m aware of unless it happened on Monday. Privacy, maybe? Cleanliness?

  4. When did the bag get into the can- Monday (the day I don’t know if they had visitors), Tuesday, Wednesday? Would a person really leave a valuable bag in the trash for one or two or even 3 days?

  5. He knew the progression of this valuable bag from desk-garage-trash, and didn’t retrieve it?

  6. Why did he have the son return both cans from the curb, when he only needed the black can?

  7. While trash is picked up on Thursday, the time is random. Planning to come home for lunch to solve the valuable bag problem runs the risk of completely missing the trash collector. With two overly full cans, this will pose a trash problem for a whole week for regular trash and for two weeks for recyclables. Also, the collection company wants the lids to be closed. If you have over-filled cans too often, they will make you buy an extra can. They are expensive.
    What do you think of this story?

He lost nothing but trash, but he doesn’t want you messing with his stuff at all. He felt that you had dissed his house-cleanliness by taking out his trash for him.

My wedding ring is in the outside garbage? That’s not a ‘whenever I get around to it’ kind of situation.

Yes, that’s my take on it, too.

His story is silly, but the lesson is don’t touch people’s things because people is weird.

I say put his trash out for him next week too, just to mess with him. You don’t have anything to worry about, 'cause it’s not likely he’s going to lose his tax documents and wedding ring again, is it?

No, don’t really do that.

I think he is full of shit.

I also think he a bit of a loon.

And if he isnt making this up, he is even more off his rocker than would be suggested by him making it up.

All good reasons to be friendly but keep your distance from now on.

Good advice, ya’ll. Thanks.

Even if it is true, I think the burden of responsibilty is entirely his - he put “valuable stuff” in bag of what looked like rubbish, failed to warn his family of that so they wouldn’t throw it out, then failed to sort the situation out as a priority once he realised it had been thrown out.

Another point.

Even IF assuming what he said was true, what was the point of him telling you? You did something pretty reasonable if not actually helpful and he is trying to make you feel bad for it?

Once in awhile, some of my neighbors dumpsters are full. They’ll add an extra bag to a neighbors can that isn’t full. They’ve done that with mine. No big deal. I don’t care.

I wonder if that’s commonly done elsewhere?

The guy’s full of shit. And even if his story IS true, then he’s so freaking stupid he deserved it. I mean, how dumb can you be to just let your fucking wedding ring sit in the garbage?

Stupidity is its own punishment.

Ten bucks says this loon is wearing his wedding ring the next time you see him. He just wants you to not mess with his stuff and maybe he thought you’d pony up some cash out of guilt.


I can’t believe he was that much of a douche to someone that gives his kid a ride home from school every day. People who give my kids rides home from school are automatically elevated into a slightly higher “friend” status than just random neighbors or acquaintances.

Lessons to be learned here:

  1. Don’t store your valuables in the garbage can.

  2. When your neighbor makes an obvious public display out of being a clearly unbalanced and/or crazy person, take it as a warning and be thankful you didn’t have to find out in some other, less-minor way.

  3. Some people are really bad liars.

I also doubt the neighbor’s story. You might offer, sincerely, to meet him and his family at the landfill to look for the lost bag. (From what I’ve seen on cop shows, they can usually narrow down the vast landfill to a small area where they know that day’s run was dropped.) If he really did lose all of this stuff, surely he’d want to spend an unpleasant, smelly few hours to retrieving the documents? If he declines your offer, that’s another reason to suspect his story.

Pick up his daughter one day…drop her off at the local landfill…fun and laughs for everyone!

Another thought.

I certainly reconsider giving the daughter a ride home from school. Looney parent(s)/family, giving little girls rides home, and possible charges of sexual child abuse make for a bad combination IMO.


Looney people do looney things. Its kinda in the definition. Only the OP can really tell us if this an isolated incident or the tip of an iceberg regarding possible loonability.

There are plenty of folks that I would transport their girls/kids around without hesitation. There are also plenty of folks that would trust me without hesitation to do so.

A neighbor that sounds more like a mostly stranger that has just exhibited either lying, attempted extortion, rank stupidity, playing mind games, or at the very least very bad manners (or social cluelessness)?

Heck yeah, I might reevaluate giving Little Miss Mctrasherton a ride home everyday.

This is a very good point. Especially since it sounded like the guy was trying to get something out of him.

Yep. A neighbor once put a bag containing a dead possum in our dumpster. It was 4 days before trash day, in July.