IT WAS Friday, Oct. 11, and all the federal, state and county offices were open. Even the banks were open, so it was sunshine and service with a smile all the way around.
Except Baltimore city. Baltimore was closed down tight in honor of Columbus Day, which this year fell on Saturday. So what did everyone do except Baltimore? Everyone closed down tight on Monday.
But a lot of people in Baltimore did not know that Friday was a holiday. Out went the trash. Out went all the stuff for recycling. Why, the pavements where I live were piled high with boxes of paper, tin cans, bottles, all waiting for the recycling truck.
I lugged my recycling box down the 24 steps that lead to the street. Soda bottles, booze bottles, tin cans, newspapers, old magazines, old telephone directories, the works.
And there it sat. At noon it was still there. By 5 o'clock it was obvious that it would remain there unless I took it in. By that time I had seen a little notice in my newspaper that all city offices were closed for the holiday.
The box was full, but the weather forecast said rain. So back up the 24 steps I hauled my basket, wondering how it would hold two more weeks' worth of bottles and cans, let alone the newspapers.
Did I sleep fitfully that night? Well, not really, but I was sound asleep Saturday morning when my wife heard the recycling truck. She woke me up, and I leaped from my bed as my wondering ears heard the truck backing up the street.
Still only in my pi-jams, I jumped into my shoes, ran down the stairs and grabbed the basket. Down the 24 front steps I went, almost two at a time, to get to the street before the truck disappeared.
I got there first, dropped the basket, ran out into the roadway and stopped the truck. A man jumped from it and emptied all my bottles and cans into a bin as I watched.
He looked at me strangely when he saw I had on only pajamas and untied shoes.
"I was in bed when my wife heard you come down the street," I explained. "I'm glad I caught you."
"Well," he said, "I hope I didn't interrupt anything!"
You know, when you get to be 67, you'd run up and down those 24 steps a dozen times just to be rewarded with a remark like that.
It made my day.
Geoffrey W. Fielding is a Baltimore geezer.