Sunday, September 03, 2006


The other day, I was outside letting Jackson the Super Beagle take a leak in the front yard because the back was soaked and muddy. While out front, a new neighbor from a couple of doors down approached me and introduced himself. His name was Jeff.

We were talking for just a few moments and he asked me some specific questions about, of all things, trash pick-up. "Do they not just take the trash can and actually pick it up and empty it? Or do they just pull the bags out?"

At this point, I start thinking to myself, "Man, this guy asks more questions than a four year-old."

"I'm just wondering," he continues, "because in California, they take those cans, bang them on the side of the truck and throw them back where you had them. They beat the crap out of 'em, but at least they actually empty 'em."

"Hmm, California," I say. "My brother's out in Pasadena." So much for an easy out of the conversation.

"Yeah, we just moved here from there. Hey, are you not using your old trash cans?" he asked looking at the two old Rubbermaid trash cans I had sitting next to the new beautiful trash can my lovely wife brought home.

"Nah, I've been wanting the city to pick it up, but they haven't yet."

"Well, I work for the state department and I can find a use for those."

Pause it right there...okay. Hold on a sec while I rewind it back.

"...for the state department and I can find a use for those..."

Now, I know I'm not fully familiar with all the departments of the state (and I'm only assuming that he's talking about the state of Tejas). But I know there's a Department of Transportation, a Department of Insurance, Department of Information Resources, Department of Public Safety, Department of Licensing and Regulation...what in the hell is the State Department?! And more importantly, what does the State Department do? I'm not even sure it's supposed to be capitalized. I don't even know if it exists. It's so non-descript. It's so non-specific.

It's like working for an outfit called the Company Association. What does that mean?

I looked at him with a face of confusion, but only for a moment. He just grinned at me. I told him we was welcome to the old trash cans for use with the State Department, but I didn't ask what they used them for.

I'm just going to walk in somewhere and say I'm from the State Department and see what happens. Like I'll walk into the courthouse downtown and pass a few guards saying, "Don't worry, I'm from the State Department." Better yet, I'll start up a fuss at the gas station about, say, the dirty heads on the fountain drink machine and say, "Do you know who you're talking to? I'm from the State Department, fella. I'd put a lid on it if I were you. I'm going to take this soda in for examination."

Can someone please clarify who, what, where, when and why the State Department?


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