I had to pull a Dexter today and hack up our Christmas tree (which we had started calling, with great affection, "Old Brownie") into pieces small enough to stuff inside regular size trash bags.
Refuse disposal here is nothing if not tidy, and organized, and getting rid of the tree was to be no exception, at least that was the message I received, despite the language barrier, from the Japanese gent who works in our building. A kind and patient man, he listened as I attempted to ask for his assistance by making wild gestures with my arms, as in, I've got something big I need to throw out. Back home in Brooklyn, we'd just call down to the front desk and one of the guys would (eventually) bring up a Hefty bag big enough to cover a small car, shove the whole thing inside, tie it off and drag it away. This more than earned the Christmas bonus in my mind.
But we are living in the Windsor House now, and it occurred to me that dragging the thing along the breezeway outside our door and into the carpeted elevator and down to the trash room, leaving a trail of pine needles on the spic-and-span tiles of the common areas and the impossibly pristine concrete floor of the garage, would simply not do. I wouldn't dare make a mess like that. Which was why I consulted the maintenance man, and which was why I asked him to follow me home so he could see what I was talking about, and why I then followed him back to the basement and didn't protest when he handed me a small saw, a pair of gardening sheers and a stack of clear plastic bags.
Tools in hand, I went back upstairs and was studying the thing, trying to figure out a plan of attack (Terry had taken the boys to a park so I was on my own), when the doorbell rang. It was the maintenance man, and I thought for a second, he's here to help me! But I was wrong. He had forgotten to give me one more thing: a pair of gardening gloves, the kind with rubber tread on the palms. How thoughtful! No really, I mean it. Arigato gozaimasu. (Sure you don't want to stay and snip branches? No?)
On my own again, I started hacking away, and it was slow going at first, but pretty soon I got the hang of it. I can't say how much time passed before I had the thing bagged up, only that our maintenance man seemed to know precisely how long it would take me because just as I was sweeping the last pile of needles into a dustpan, the doorbell rang again. It was him, with two empty garbage bins and a rolling cart. He'd come to collect the bags! And that was that.
Oh but I didn't let him leave until I could take a picture. Goodbye, Old Brownie!