Get Facts Straight

For years I worked at a building located next to several apartments that housed university students. It was a constant battle to get students to use their own outside trash bins. On multiple occasions we had no place to deposit our own trash because our bin had been filled with their garbage. Adding to the irritation was the fact that the organization that I worked for paid the entire bill for this particular garbage bin. Often students would put their food scraps in plastic buckets on the ground next to our bin if it was full. This was all done at night so that we would not know who was doing it. What was even more frustrating was that the apartments all provided large trash bins next to their buildings. However, it would require them to walk about 15 feet further if they used their own bin. I tried to be patient but got really tired of not being able to use our own garbage bin because the students were filling it to capacity. To go along with that problem, I often cleaned up their food scraps when animals turned their buckets over. 


I drove into the parking lot one day and noticed bags piled up against the trash bin.  Walking closer, I found trash out of the bags scattered on the ground and a three-gallon bucket with food scraps that had been dumped over. As I cleaned up the mess dressed in a dark suit, I became more and more upset. Among the trash, I picked up some letters and others correspondence on the ground. I realized I finally found the culprit who was dumping this garbage. I soon found myself knocking on the door of an apartment. I asked the student who answered to step to the back of his apartment with me. By the look on his face, he must have thought I was an FBI agent or plain-clothes police officer. I asked him to point out where the trash bin was located for his apartment. He hesitated and finally said he didn’t know. Pointing across the street, I showed him which trash bin did not belong to him and asked him to start using his own bin. I told him I was tired of picking up after him and his friends. I then asked him to walk across the street and get his garbage and put it in his own bin.

The next day the trash had not been emptied and even more had been added to the mess. I walked down to the apartment’s bin next to ours and found it totally empty. I took the very “mature” step of removing the bags of trash and buckets of food scraps and placing them in their driveway. The situation improved for a couple of weeks but then started all over again. I made a commitment that if I ever caught anyone putting trash into our trash bin, I was going to tell them what I thought about it.

One day as I was pulling out of our parking lot, I saw a college-aged guy adding things to our trash bin. For the first time in three years, I had actually caught someone red-handed. Past incidents flashed in front of me and I was not a happy camper. I pulled the car right up to the young man, rolled down my window and asked in a tone of anger what he thought he was doing. Seeing the look on my face and hearing the tone in my voice, he acted as if he were frightened. I knew exactly who he was and where he lived. Again I asked him what he was doing. He finally shrugged his shoulders and said, “No speak English.” I thought, “Nice attempt, Mr. University of Texas college student!”  I said in a louder tone, “Yeah, you speak English, and I’m telling you to stay away from our trash bin. I’m sick and tired of you putting your trash in our bin. Don’t let it happen again.” He looked even more frightened and said, “No comprender.” I said, “Yes, you comprender and I’m telling you to stay away from here and use your own trash bin.” I pulled away feeling smug about finally having the opportunity to confront one of the offenders.

As I looked in the rearview mirror, I saw him walk onto our lawn. I thought to myself, “And stay off our lawn too.” When I drove back to the building about an hour later, the same young man was in our parking lot. The nerve of this student was unbelievable! I couldn’t believe after our confrontation he was still hanging around. I decided I was going to call the police if he did not leave immediately. However, looking a little closer, I saw that he had a leaf blower and was blowing leaves around our parking lot. Looking closer I saw a truck that had a business advertisement on the door. It hit me that it was the name of the lawn care service that this young man obviously worked for. My face turned bright red. I quickly checked our trash bin to see what the young man had thrown in. Of course it was leaves and branches from our lawn. The “student” I confronted was actually a worker for the company that my organization hired to take care of our lawn. I quickly went into the building and hoped that the young man really didn’t understand English.


I now understand a verse in the bible that says, “He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly.” (Proverbs 14:17.)

Lessons Learned
When we lose our temper it often leads to making unwise decisions.
We should make sure we have all the facts in a situation before acting.
Things are not always as they appear to be so we should not jump to conclusions.

Make sure that you have all of the facts before forming an opinion or acting on an assumption. 




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