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Matthew Jelalian: To the person who filled up the dumpster

January 20, 2019
Matthew Jelalian poses for a portrait in the Daily Herald studio on Friday, March 6, 2015. SAMMY JO HESTER, Daily Herald

I live in a homeowners association. Which is like choosing to live with another level of government regulations that nobody else in your neighborhood has to adhere to.

The only difference is the HOA is a private entity. Within the confines of our HOA, there are three dumpsters and I’m not sure how many units. In theory, there’s plenty of dumpster space for everyone to throw away their trash, but in practice, there isn’t.

Last Sunday I had a couple of big boxes to throw out, as well as a bag of garbage. I took the biggest box to the dumpster closest to where I live and it was full beyond capacity. So, instead of trying to defy physics, I walked my boxes down to the southernmost dumpster, which was also full, albeit slightly less so than the first one. From there, I crossed the street to the final dumpster.

Generally speaking, this last dumpster is never full because it’s set apart from the majority of the other units in the HOA. But even this one was mostly full. It was just empty enough, however, for me to throw out my biggest pieces of garbage.

I had three options, leave the garbage in my house until Tuesday, pile it out in front of the dumpster closest to my house or walk around like an idiot finding the best way to spread my garbage amongst the other dumpsters as to not be a terrible person.

I went with option three, like a gentleman.

The next morning I went out to my car to go to work only to find that some other neighbor chose option one and dumped their garbage in front of the dumpster for somebody else to pick up.

Of course, that was annoying, especially after doing my mid-evening marathon, but I figured everything would be fine by Tuesday. That’s because April showers bring May flowers and Tuesday afternoons bring dump trucks.

Tuesday came and the garbage went. But by Wednesday morning, my family produced another bag of garbage which I went to take out. But someone had already put a sofa-sized box filled with crap in the dumpster. That box took up the majority of the dumpster space.

Those dumpsters hadn’t been empty for 24 hours yet, and some yahoo already filled it single-handedly, like a monster. If that isn’t the epitome of living in an HOA, I don’t know what is.

How did they get a box that big into the dumpster? The world may never know. It’s a mystery like the Egyptian pyramids and the statues on Easter Island.

For all I know, there could have been a family of five in that box and a serial killer could now be living in the neighborhood. The box was easily big enough to fit five people.

The garbage rules are pretty simple. Throw out your junk. Collapse your boxes. Take any abnormally large items to the dump. Don’t place your crap outside of the dumpster.

That’s it. But since the holidays, overflowing dumpsters have become more and more of a problem. You’ll see mattresses leaning against the dumpsters, bags of garbage just sitting there on the ground and the last collapsed box I saw in a dumpster was one I threw out.

And now we have the Smith family wrapped in cardboard in there.

For the most part, living in an HOA isn’t that bad. We get cheaper cable and Internet than if we were to pay for it by ourselves and someone else takes care of snow removal. But this garbage problem is an unmitigated disaster.

I wish I could end this story making some grand comparison to the larger world, but I can’t. This is just a story about garbage and how it affects a couple hundred residents in Provo. That’s it.

Although HOAs are private entities, they’re like any government program out there, in that they only work to the extent that which everyone is willing to follow the rules. The fact that they’re privately owned doesn’t change that fact. As the dues increase so it seems does the trash.

Hopefully, whoever the neighborhood hoarder is will run out of garbage to throw away soon. After all, you can only kill the Smith family once.

I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say that we’d all really wish that you, unknown neighbor, stop hogging the entire dumpster for yourself. I already have to balance several jobs and two kids. Please don’t make getting rid of my pizza box a hardship too.

Also, what did the Smith family ever do to you?

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