Stringer Wireman interviews Tumultuous Trash Co. President Slag Detritus. His business is the sole provider for refuse pickup in a small flyover California city.

Wireman: Mr. Detritus, May I call you “Slag?” Members of the community are getting quite upset over the outrageous fines being levied for having too much trash in their containers. Care to comment?

Detritus: People need to understand that my company is caught in the middle of all this controversy. Our state legislators have determined we can save the planet with less trash. They have decreed we must have a 75% reduction in garbage by 2025.

Wireman: But how can that happen with a growing population, along with exploding development?

Detritus: You need to understand, Wireman. This state is like the old Soviet Union. It pretends to dictate the impossible and we pretend to carry it out. Remember those five-year plans the communists used to have back in the old days that never worked?

Wireman: Yes, but how are huge fines levied against struggling businesses going to solve the trash problem?

Detritus: Look, I don’t make the rules, but the game goes something like this: The legislature and the governor sock it to the cities with impossible mandates. The cities sock it to us and we sock it to you. Businesses just raise prices to cover costs. When soon you’ll be paying ten bucks for a simple cheeseburger, you’ll know why.

Wireman: But again, how does charging big fines save the planet?

Detritus: I think the plan is for the city to pass the collected money onto us. That way, we can afford to put the extra trash into our trucks, haul it to Nevada and dump it in the desert during the middle of the night. We might even make money on the deal by bringing bootleg ammunition back and selling it on the black market.

Wireman: Isn’t that illegal?

Detritus: How do you think people survived in the old Soviet Union?

Wireman: What’s going to happen when you start socking it to the average homeowner?

Detritus: We already have cameras in our trucks and are watching them like hawks. homeowners are next on our list. We are also issuing much smaller trash cans to cut down on waste.

Wireman: What are people supposed to do with all their extra refuse?

Detritus: That’s not my problem. But I imagine they’ll put it in their neighbors’ cans and get THEM in trouble. People also might dump it in various places around the city. Another option is to pile it up or bury it in backyards. Dumping it along Highway 99, where no one really notices, isn’t a bad idea either.

Wireman: But Highway 99 already looks like a Third World country. Won’t that make things even worse?

Detritus: Don’t tell ME about the problem. Tell those folks you put in the legislature every two and four years. Aren’t they the cause of all this?

Wireman: Where does all the recycle stuff finally end up?

Detritus: We used to sell it to the Chinese, but they don’t want it anymore. So now it all goes in one big pile with everything else.

Wireman: Now wait a minute: Are you kidding me? This whole thing sounds like one big farce. It’s causing people to suffer needlessly, and none of this is helping the planet one bit!

Detritus: You know, Wireman? You’re actually not as dumb as you look. Now you know why we’re moving our company to Abilene, Texas. Would you care to join us? If not, you just have a nice day in crazy ol’ California, ya’ll hear?

Wireman: (bewildered) Well, eh…yeah…thanks, I think.

Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer and satirist.

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