, chewing tobacco, , , , munchkins,

A short story, by Bill Claxton

For fear of sounding derogatory, I will not use the word midget. Instead I will simply use the term short …… very short.

In 1983, when Jane and I moved into our first house, we were not aware of the location of a landfill. I’m not even sure there was one in the county at the time. What the local government provided to the general public for purposes of garbage disposal were dumpsters located in various spots dotted around the county. I knew of at least one location that wasn’t too far from our new house.

After moving and unboxing all of our stuff, we were left with a few items that I didn’t think the local trash service would want to pick up; items such as a small hibachi grill, cardboard boxes, an old Styrofoam cooler. So I threw them in the back of my pickup and headed to the dumpster. 

After arriving at the dumpster, I backed up and tossed everything in. Immediately, a small car pulled up beside me and a very short man jumped out toting a ladder and a camera. He leaned the ladder against the dumpster, proceeded to climb to the top and take photos of the items I had just put in. Then he crawled back down and took pictures of me and my vehicle.

Odd ……….

I started to say, “What’s up, dude?” but after careful consideration I refrained. Instead I asked what he was doing. Because he was chewing a very large wad of tobacco, I couldn’t understand his reply. He mumbled something about an “orniss.” I excused my inability to comprehend and asked him to please repeat what he said. He pointed to a sign and said, “We have an orniss in this county.”

Very odd ……. like something out of a weird dream.

I looked at the sign; it said “Household Garbage Only.” I finally realized what he was saying; there was an ordinance prohibiting anything but household garbage in these dumpsters. I also realized that he apparently held some official capacity for garbage patrol, though he was more reminiscent of a strange combination of Barney Fife with the Mayor of the Munchkin City from the Wizard of OZ.Barney Fifemunchkin-mayor BW

If he hadn’t been so serious, I would have found this amusing…….

Still confused, I asked what constituted household garbage? He indicated that they didn’t allow building materials because they damaged the garbage trucks. To which I replied, none of the things I put in were building materials. He then pointed at the hibachi grill. You mean a hibachi is a tool used for building houses?


I offered to take it back out of the dumpster if he would like. He indicated that it was too late. He just spit a large glob of brown goo out of the side of his mouth and handed me a fine for $50.00. He showed no concern for the removal of the hibachi grill or for damage that might be done to one of the county’s valuable pieces of equipment. Which, if I’m not mistaken, was the purpose for the ordinance in the first place, right?

Or maybe not ……..


Welcome to Oz……….