I recall one year doing a particularly good job of telling people what was going to be opened and closed for a certain holiday. Included in that list was a definitive item about garbage collection. Essentially, if a holiday were on a Monday, garbage collection would be delayed by one day. Therefore, if your regular collection day fell on a Tuesday, your holiday-week collection day would be Wednesday.
On Tuesday morning that week, I pulled out of my driveway to head into the office and I noticed that my neighbor had put out his garbage for that morning. Well, I thought, he doesn’t read the paper. Then I noticed our neighbor on the other side had his garbage can out. And the person across the street. And their neighbors. In fact, every single house on my street had their garbage can out. I took a special trip around the neighborhood and saw nearly every house with its garbage can out.
It is a small thing, I know, but it got me to thinking about how the world would be a better place if everyone just read the newspaper. After all, an evening stroll through the neighborhood becomes unpleasantly stinky when the garbage is put out for two days. Similarly, neighborhoods and street corners were littered with garage sale signs, sandwich boards and posters for yard sales and youth sports signups and pieces of paper stapled to telephone poles for lost cats and items for sale. My perennial favorite was always the cardboard box with writing on the side of it. I always had the nearly uncontrollable urge to swerve off the road and drive over the box with my car, but there was usually a big rock placed in the box to weigh it down.
I got to the thinking that if everyone just read their local newspaper and advertised all their stuff in the paper, we wouldn’t need all this clutter. But alas, people put up those signs because otherwise, if they advertised only in the newspaper, they wouldn’t reach a significant segment of the population.
But not just the small stuff like garbage cans and yard sales would be affected. How about elections? That’s pretty big. Like a supplemental levy election, which affected people’s taxes.