Monday, October 18, 2004

Head in a bag

Today was rubbish day. A few years ago, the local city government decided to insist on clear bags, in order to enforce recycling. We are supposed to separate our rubbish into burnables, plastics, cans and glass, PET bottles, and... I can't remember what else. There seem to be an awful lot of things we are supposed to take note of before deciding which bag to put our rubbish into. (This new law is wonderful if you're a crow, because you now get to eat breakfast on rubbish days buffet style instead of pot luck.)

Anyway, as I said, today was rubbish day, and as I was cycling to work I got fleeting glimpses into my neighbours' lifestyles as I whizzed past their neatly stacked rubbish bags. (Neatly stacked except when the crows had been breakfasting, in which case rubbish was strewn across the road.) And as I whizzed towards one particular rubbish bag, I got the disconcerting impression that there was a head inside it.

Naturally I slowed a little as I went past, just enough to reassure myself that it was not, in fact, a head, but a discarded wig. It didn't look like real hair. It was blonde and coarse, and the colour was not natural. I carried on by.

But as I continued I started to worry some more. What if it was a head? A woman cycled past in the other direction, and I noticed that her hair was blonde and coarse and unnatural-looking, and remembered that in fact most people in Japan these days seem to dye their hair. This no doubt explains why every second block has a hair salon. Everybody dyes their hair, and it very rarely looks natural, particularly in this country where the majority of people have naturally black hair.

I argued with myself as I cycled along, coming up with reasons why it could not have been a head in the bag and therefore I should not have stopped to inspect and made myself late for work. Nobody would leave it out in plain sight, I told myself. They would hide it inside something, or at least cover it with rubbish. But then, said the devil's advocate inconveniently residing between my ears, they might 'hide' it in plain sight if they were particularly devious and realised that everybody would assume what I had assumed. They might have hidden it in plain sight knowing that everybody would assume that it must be a wig.

As I continued to argue with myself a rubbish truck was coming in the opposite direction. The guys running along behind it were clearly not stopping to inspect every bag. They were grabbing them on the run, and throwing them into that turning crusher thingy in the back of the truck, which was then crushing the bags and presumably tossing the squashed contents into the bowels of the truck. I thought of the wig.

Or the head.

I gulped. It must have been a wig, I told myself firmly. I had a class to teach.