I don’t have mountains or bodies of water or even statues or historic arches in view from my window. However, points of interest visible outside my bedroom include a big, red, lighted set of letters that read H-E-B.

The other big attraction is a dumpster, partially screened by a fence and a hedge.

I imagine you’re familiar with dumpsters, mostly associated with commercial, rather than residential, neighborhoods. Ours, I guess, are part of the exception. At the Village at Morningstar there are several.

We don’t have door-to-door trash pickup. If you want to dispose of trash, you pack it in a bag and tote it to a dumpster.

The dumpster is sort of a drinking fountain assembly point for local residents, serving as an unorganized gathering place.

I looked up the history.

Dumpsters began as a system of loading regular garbage cans onto a truck. It was modified and patented in 1935 by a man called Dempsey, who called it the Dempsey Dumpster. The name has become generic for the systems we know and recognize.

Everybody who lives here either totes trash to a dumpster or has a friend or relative to take care of it.

If I sit here at my computer beside the window that overlooks the dumpster, I will eventually see everybody who lives in this part of the village. And they will see each other. And visit there with the neighbors. I have a neighbor across the way who stands outside her apartment and eventually visits with all who visit the site.

During my quarantine from COVID, my local kin hauled my trash. Now that I’ve become bulletproof, I can take out my own bags.

But freedom can only go so far, I’ve found, and the trash disposal has become an event.

As far as I know, there are no dumpster divers around. But I’m assuming because of various items — left within the dumpster fence but outside the actual dumpster — that people occasionally acquire something that was trash to one person but treasure to another.

I think dumpster diving is supposed to be illegal. Swapping stuff, however, seems a pretty reasonable practice.

One time I got to witness a dumpster fire. I was told later that someone had emptied his barbecue pit too early. Two firemen came out in a pickup truck with an ordinary water hose and took care of it.

When necessary, I gather a bag of papers and a bag of kitchen stuff and those boxes and packages that accompany everything you eat.

Then I take the bags to the car, drive the car to the dumpster and pitch the bags into the container, which is pretty tall.

I turn the car around, drive to my mailbox at the big apartment building, which I think they call “the club house.”

I pick up my mail, round the corner of the drive and go about 20 feet back into my parking space.

I greet anybody I see, happy to encounter another human being after so much isolation.

Cathy Gillentine is a Daily News columnist. She may be reached at cathy.gillentine@comcast.net.


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