Dreams From My Father

Mistakes were made.

Recently, I received a curbside food waste bin from the city of Boston. It’s part of a system for composting that works with city living. As I have a small kitchen and no yard at all, composting myself is not much of an option. I don’t really want to intentionally have worms and flies living in my house. Weird, I know.

Thankfully, the city will pick up food waste from the curbside, and take it to a commercial composting facility. According to the program’s website, “[f]ood scraps collected by this program are used to make nutrient-rich soil and clean energy”. Neat! All I have to do is send organic waste to a different bin than my regular trash.

There’s a problem, however. To better identify it as belonging to me, the curbside bin I received has a space for my address. This space is currently blank as the factory created it:

A food waste bin with a blank “Address” field, awaiting writing

It is blank because I am terrified to fill it in. Why, you ask? Because I fear repeating the mistakes of my forebears. Behold:

A recycling bin with “21 Scotts” written in large lettering in the address field, with “DALE” crammed into the end.

I took the above photograph years ago simply because it made me laugh.1 This is the hilarious recycling bin from my childhood home, lettered decades ago by my dear departed father. He was so bold, so confident, so optimistic! But apparently, he had no idea how big letters should be.2

I wish I could ask my dad what he thought about it all. At what exact point in the process did he realize it had all gone to hell? What made him scrunch that “DALE” in there? Did he ever consider using some acetone to get another chance at it? Oh, the things I’d like to know.

Alas, he’s been gone for nearly a decade. There are no answers to be found. I am left with only the amusement. Still, that’s not so bad, and I can share it with you.


  1. I was able to locate it in Apple’s “Photos” app by searching for the word “Scotts”, but of course, not the word “Scottsdale”. ↩︎

  2. This John Mulaney bit (from his special “The Comeback Kid”) is so incredibly apt, I’m willing to link to Facebook to share it with you. But if it should ever be inaccessible, the video is archived here. ↩︎