It smelled like death. And a rotten egg. It smelled like death laid a rotten egg in a dumpster, threw it in a garbage can and set it outside our back door.
Carrie and I awoke to this on a Saturday morning. We discovered the ill-fated garbage can while we were plunging the basement toilet. It was not a good day.
Nobody uses the basement toilet, so don’t ask me how it got clogged. That morning was the first time we had ever even flushed anything down it, and that was just a stink bug. But it was very much clogged, and we resigned ourselves to the plunger.
The toilet belched, then belched again and vomited up a mass of white. Carrie and I stared at it anxiously, fearful the mass might rise out of the bowels of the bowl and cover us in stale toilet water. But it didn’t smell like stale toilet water. It smelled, for some unknowable reason, like dryer sheets.
The reason the toilet smelled like dryer sheets is because it was clogged with dryer sheets. I don’t know what was more disconcerting: the fact that our toilet was clogged with dryer sheets or the fact that there is, somewhere in this world, a human being using dryer sheets as toilet paper. Carrie and I have some serious concerns for this individual.
Fishing out the dryer sheets, which had clearly been used for a primordial purpose (like, seriously…who is this person??), was like bobbing for apples, if the apples were nuclear waste. That’s one pair of rubber gloves we will not use again. They went right out to the garbage can, along with at least eight dryer sheets that had been to a place where no dryer sheet was ever meant to go. (Eight! Like, seriously, who is this person??)
Out we went to dump our cargo in the garbage and bathe ourselves in Lysol, and that’s when we found it. The pungent odor preceded it – death and rotten egg. It was lumpy and heavy and fossilized in the bottom of our trash can like days-old cottage cheese. We upended the can, but gravity was no match. Our hose wouldn’t even budge this stuff.
We had no choice but to shovel it out. Noses buried in our t-shirts, we got to work.
“What is this stuff?” I grumbled, as a chunk of the goopy gray matter flew off the shovel and splattered on Carrie’s toe. “It’s like stone dust.”
“Yea, stone dust that married death and hatched a rotten egg.” Carrie focused on her toe for a long moment, then grimacingly swallowed a large lump of something. With every shovelful, the stench paraded around our yard and settled in our noses.
“Ew – there’s rat poop in it, too. We’re attracting rodents!”
“Oh my God. That’s not rat poop.”
We stared at each other. I brushed hair out of my face; realizing I’d used a tainted hand, I promptly ripped that piece out.
“But it can’t be– No, nobody would do that,” Carrie stammered. “Would they?”
They would. The petrified remains of what must have been two months of the previous tenants’ used cat litter had congealed in the base of our garbage can under the hot summer sun like molded pottery in a kiln. Needless to say, another pair of rubber gloves got the ax that morning.
I don’t know who dumps used cat litter straight into a garbage can without a bag, but whoever it is, I’ll bet they go through a heck of a lot of dryer sheets in a week.