There was a sad-looking plastic bag on the landing in front of my apartment door. The contents were mixed: the tray from a convenience store boxed lunch, an empty cigarette pack, two PET bottles, and several beer cans.
The bag itself was filthy and looked much older than its contents, as if it had been pulled from under a shrub, where it had sat undisturbed for years.
On the outside of the bag was one of the red and white stickers used by the city to tell you you’ve made a mistake with your garbage. If you put recycling out on burnable trash day, for example, or separate your refuse incorrectly, you’ll get such a sticker.
This sticker indicated that the bag’s contents were mixed and could not be accepted as-is.
I didn’t know whose garbage it was, but it wasn’t mine. Someone did, however, go to the trouble of carrying it up to the second floor to leave it on my doorstep, making it my problem.
The next day, with help from a friend, I composed a brief note in Japanese. I wrote it very carefully by hand. With the note taped in place, I returned the bag to the trash area in front of the building.
The note, in essence, read:
Blaming the foreigner is a dick move. This is not mine.– Apt. 201
I have no idea if the note it was ever read, but the bag disappeared and I felt better. Not my trash, not my problem.