Monday, August 10, 2009

We went camping this weekend, which was the usual delightful stew of dirt, chores in the dirt, dirty children, screaming children in the middle of the night, crappy nights of sleep, and bugs. I was delighted to arrive back at home on Sunday afternoon, and was looking forward to an epic shower.

After parking the car in our garage, I picked our mail up off the garage floor, where it falls each day, and noticed a small squished worm on one of the envelopes. I grabbed the next envelope and noticed the same thing. Hmmmm.

I looked down on the garage floor and noticed a dozen small wriggling off-white creatures. Uh oh. Our garbage can sits near this spot, so I rolled it out of the way. A dozen more little wormy guys were under that can. The green bin (for garden and kitchen scraps) sits in that area of the garage too so I reached for it to move it out of the way. I didn't get very far before I noticed that maggots were oozing out from under the lid of the green bin and dripping down onto the garage floor.

Oh. Crap. Maggots.

I called my wife over and she told me that the garbage people had somehow failed to pick up the green bin last week, so the stuff in there was pretty ripe. We eyed the can from a couple of different angles and saw more maggots dripping out of a goopy foam under the lid on the side of the bin. I looked more carefully around the floor of the garage and suddenly noticed quite a few more maggots, They had clearly all come from the green bin, but they were traveling fast.

Our garage, like many, does not have a high ceiling. Various things, like our mail bag, dangle from the garage ceiling and will brush up against your head as you walk through. Right about then, our mail bag brushed against my head, and I leapt out of the way in terror, hopping in circles while making a primitive throaty squealing sound, and flailing around, attempting to wipe nonexistent maggots off every inch of my body. My wife eyed me, alarmed. (I did not get laid that night.)


So now, after a couple of days camping, with a car full of soiled camping gear, and a body full of soiled camping dirt, when all I really wanted to do was take a long hot shower, I suddenly had to deal with a garbage bin and garage full of maggots.

(Each time I told this story at work today, I'd pause at this point and the listener would ask, "So, how do you deal with a compost bin full of maggots?" I'd then jump up and say "EXACTLY! HOW THE CRAP DO YOU DEAL WITH A COMPOST BIN FULL OF MAGGOTS?!?!")

Typically when I have something really disgusting in the house, I deal with it by throwing it in the appropriate garbage bin, but what do you do when the disgusting thing is already in the bin? It's a riddle! It's like trying to clean yourself with dirty soap! It's a riddle wrapped in an enigma shoved up the ass of a filthy maggot!

I gingerly grabbed the bin, which was constantly dripping maggots, and wheeled it out to the curb, instantly becoming the worst neighbor on the block. The wife and I then swept and hosed out the garage. Afterwards, we stared at the offending bin.

"So, now what?" I asked Hank. "I'd like to pour bleach or poison in there, but the garbage company is going to take the contents of that bin and turn it into compost. We can't poison it because it's going to poison somebody's food. So, what do we do?"

"Well, let's just keep an eye on it and see if it gets worse," Hank suggested.

"Are you suggesting that this could get worse? That bin is SPEWING maggots. Are they going to come bust down our door? " I asked, incredulously.

We tried spraying some not-too-toxic stuff in the bin, but the maggots were unaffected, athletically leaping from the bin every chance they got. We considered pouring boiling water in the bin, but there was so much mass in there, that we concluded that we'd merely end up making a warm slush, which was probably an even more superior breeding ground.

So, we pretty much left the bin as-is on the sidewalk, praying that the infestation wouldn't get any worse overnight and that our neighbors wouldn't come and lynch us.

By this morning, things hadn't gotten any worse, but they weren't any better either, with hundreds of maggots on the sidewalk, making a surprisingly vigorous charge for our front door, like salmon swimming back to their spawning ground. We did another round of sweeping and hosing, and ultimately did pour a kettle full of boiling water into the bin. Then, I crossed my fingers and went to work.

I called the garbage company this morning, waiting in the hold queue for about 20 minutes and finally spoke to someone. I was feeling indignant, battle-hardened by my heroic efforts against the maggots. I explained the situation to the customer service representative and asked them to send a truck out early to come pick up my "compost", anticipating their excuses and waiting for a fight.

They politely agreed and picked it up later that day.

So, the story has a happy ending, but goddamn. Maggots! And camping! That was one nasty weekend.

TGIM, baby.


Sue said...


James said...

Officially one of the funniest stories about maggots.

And I've read a LOT! :-)

Mike said...

Sue, I know!

James, wow, you have read a lot of maggot stories! I didn't realize it was a genre. I googled around for information about maggots and bins and somehow didn't see your site. Good info there!

Anonymous said...

I am sorry for your horror, but when you're an enviro-green-recycler person, you get what you get, don't throw a's not a criticism, just a reminder. You go camping, you get dirty, you have a "green" garbage thingy, you get maggots. And if you add cantaloupe rinds to that equation, you get odors of scifi epic proportions, and the bugs to enhance the experience....eeeeeeewwwwwweeeeee!!!
....and what up with the mail in the basement? Do they not have mailbox in CA? In Texas, a nice mail carrier leaves it in a nice clean box, far away from insects (except for the Africanized Honey Bees in my honeysuckle bush). Peace, and clean mail to you.

Mike said...

Hi Cottage Child, you make a good point about smells and bugs coming with the compost-territory, but I reserve the right to be grossed out when maggots infest my garage. I mean, come on! Maggots!

And the maggots/mail were all in the garage, not the basement. We don't really have basements in San Francisco. Our mail slot is in our garage door, so the mail typically drops into the bag on the other side of the door, or on the floor.

carey said...

Where's your respect for the life cycle? You tried to kill unborn happy baby flies!

Good god, Mike, I have had some gross stuff in my garbage, but this takes the cake. So did the maggots, I guess.

Mike said...

Carey, I reserve the right to kill any sort of bug any time. This is open to discussion when they develop brains bigger than peas.

Ms.PhD said...

LOL! OMG! One of the funniest things I've seen all week (maybe longer). Thanks for a good laugh at your maggoty expense!

Mike said...

I wish I could say it was my pleasure, Ms. PhD.

ColdLipstick said...

I found you while looking for my own answers and while I didn't have any lightbulb moments I did get some laughs and relief at finding out its not just my own bad luck that we have them!

Now to get back to trying to figure out where the HELL my own new 'friends' are coming from...

ColdLipstick said...

I found you while looking for my own answers and while I didn't have any lightbulb moments I did get some laughs and relief at finding out its not just my own bad luck that we have them!

Now to get back to trying to figure out where the HELL my own new 'friends' are coming from...