The Day I Almost Put My Child in a Dumpster

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And then my brain slowed down for a minute. In addition to writing about employment law for work, I also write a lot about industrial safety. I have penned a lot of stories about people killing themselves in really stupid ways. (My favorite is the guy who got high before going in to feed the bears at the bear preserve. A classic.) So I couldn’t ignore the fact that while the dumpster chute seemed pretty sturdy and safe enough, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. What I did know was that there was a compactor switch somewhere. I’ve seen the maintenance guys use a key to turn it on, but how did I know there wasn’t an internal trigger someplace? Also, what if she panicked (a big possibility) and slipped into the trash pile and landed on something sharp or disease-ridden? I would never forgive myself.

Plus, I could just imagine the maintenance manager, who knows me pretty well after all my years here, visiting us in the hospital and going, “Trish, what on earth made you think sticking your kid in the dumpster was a good idea?”

Also? If I drove by and saw one of my neighbors sticking their kid into the trash chute, I’d be all like, “Way to go, brainiac! I’ll be sure to nominate you for Parent of the Year, asshole.”

So it had to be me. I left Megan to stand guard and make sure no one else threw trash into the chute while I went home to get a stool. By this time, playdate mom was back from her beer run. “What happened?” she asked.

“Can you come spot me while I climb into the trash chute?” I asked.

Inside the Dumpster

I hoisted myself into the grody, trash-caked chute. I sat down and leaned far. Then you know what I did? I nabbed those mothereffing keys and jumped outta there.

Then playdate mom and I went back to my house and drank beer in the kitchen like a couple of heroes.

(If and when you ever come here, I don’t want to hear any crap about how the trash chute is really short and not scary.)

Later Megan said, “You know when you said you weren’t mad? You seemed pretty mad.” Bright kid, that one.


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Trish Sammer Johnston



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