Apartment Dumpster Diving: How to Respond When A Resident Loves Your Trash Way Too Much
A Day in the Life...
You never know what to expect when you’re managing an apartment community. Sometimes even the most “normal-looking” people will surprise you. In this case, the manager had a resident who couldn’t keep himself out of our dumpsters. We thought it would be fun to share this crazy story from the book, I Have A Complex, But I'm Managing It!
Treasure and Trash
Ah, apartment community dumpsters—or is the politically correct term: community waste receptacles? Whatever you call them, they and the area around them can be challenging to maintain.
In addition to the abuse they suffer at the hands of your residents, dumpsters are also the go-to receptacles for every non-resident Tom, Dick, and Harry needing to discard everything from keyboards to litters of kittens.
I’ve worked at several properties in my career in property management and am especially proud of the community I’m now managing. It probably sounds silly, but after seeing some pretty atrocious sights around other garbage pickup areas, I’m really proud of our dumpster enclosures.
Lovin’ Our Dumpsters
Strategically and discreetly located in six different collection points around our property, the enclosures feature high walls that compliment our buildings’ exteriors. We keep the lots around the areas clean and clearly marked; but enough about how tidy our dumpster areas are kept. This is a story about a resident who just wouldn’t stay out of them.
I’d leased an apartment to a really nice-looking young man named Nick. The day I met him, he came in wearing a suit and tie. Nick struck me as someone who was rather fastidious about his appearance.
After he’d lived at our community for a while, he turned in a maintenance request. Because my staff and I were very close, we talked a lot. Our maintenance man, Todd, told me that Nick’s apartment was super clean.
“You could eat off that dude’s floor,” he’d said.
That’s part of the reason I was surprised to receive a call from one of Nick’s neighbors.
The Curious Case of Trash Exploration
“Hey,” said the caller. “You’re the manager here, right?”
“Yes, “ I replied. “Is there a problem?”
“Well, no, not exactly a problem, it’s just . . . “ he stammered, “let’s call it an observation.”
“Okay,” I said slowly as I grabbed the notebook I used to record things like this. “Go, on—tell me about your observation.”
“Well, you didn’t hear it from me, but my neighbor, I think his name is Nick, is always jumping into the dumpster next to our building. It probably shouldn’t bother me, but I like to think that whenever I throw something away, it’s gone. I don’t want anyone digging it back out! You know what I mean? It’s just not right,” he complained. “It’s like an invasion of my privacy or something.”
I’m not going to lie. The first thing that occurred to me was not how to confront our dumpster diver, but what exactly was my caller tossing that worried him so much? I guess that’s another story . . .
I told the caller I’d check into it and thanked him for letting me know. It was a strange predicament. Was my caller just trying to cause trouble for Nick? I wondered. How was I going to confront one of my favorite residents about this without any proof? And, why would such a clean-cut, successful-looking guy want to jump inside a smelly dumpster? (Hey, I said the area around them was clean but let’s face it, dumpsters are still smelly.)
So We Had A Little Chat
As luck would have it, the accused happened into our office the very next day, and I decided to take the unassuming, yet proactive approach.
“Hi, Nick,” I said as he walked by me. “Hey, I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but we really encourage our residents to stay away from the dumpster areas unless they’re throwing something out. It isn’t safe to hang around them because we never know when the waste pickup guys will come to collect the trash.”
I was blathering and felt my cheeks turning red. Of course I knew when the dumpsters were emptied. I’m the one who set the schedule.
Nick could see I was embarrassed and I felt better about the situation when he said, “Okay, that’s fine. I’m not sure why you think I’m hanging around in your dumpsters, but so noted.”
He shot me a dazzling grin and a quick wink, then turned and walked out of the office.
That Puzzling Wink
Confusing. Did the wink suggest that he was in the dumpster, or was the guy flirting with me? I put the encounter out of my mind. There were too many other issues going on with managing the property.
The next day was Friday, and Fridays were always hectic. It was also one of the days when our waste-removal company was scheduled to collect the trash.
I was furiously working on an end-of-the-week report when Todd called me. “I’m at dumpster enclosure number four,” he said excitedly. “You need to come over here—now!”
Of course, I raced over there, only to find a huge waste-removal truck with its long metal arms suspended in mid-air, frozen in time before it lifted the dumpster beneath it into its “claws”.
Standing beside Todd was Nick, his head hung low. Another guy, who appeared to be the driver of the waste-removal truck was with them.
Caught In The Act
I was moving as fast as I could, trying to put the pieces of what happened together. I’m no rocket scientist, so here’s what I came up with: Our dumpster-diving Nick had decided to go exploring again in the big metal box. While inside, Mr. Trash Truck had come to empty the smelly contents of said box and had nearly taken our resident with it!
We Have A Bingo!
I instructed the waste-truck driver to carry on with what he needed to do. I then pointed to Nick. “You got really lucky today. You could be on your way to the landfill right now—or worse! Go home and take a shower because you stink!” I told him. “After the shower you are to come to my office. We’re going to have a little talk.”
Nick looked seriously worried about the trouble he’d caused. I think the near-ride to the landfill in the belly of a dump truck was enough to cure the thrill of further dumpster exploration.
After this, we never had an issue with Nick again!
Contributed from San Marcos
From the book "I Have a Complex, but I'm Managing It!" Stories from property managers compiled by Monica E. Simmons.