The past couple of weeks I have been reading and thinking about the story of Jonah, which has caused me to think about some of things in my life that I have been asked to do that I really didn’t want to. This of course led to the long list of childhood chores that my parents used to strengthen and shape my work ethic and moral character. Among this list of chores there is one chore that rises above the rest as the most despised chore of all time. It was the PIG BUCKET.
To this day I’m not entirely sure why we called it the pig bucket, but as far back as I can remember that’s what we called it even though we never had pigs. The pig bucket was the nasty receptacle in the kitchen where all of the food leftovers got tossed. Growing up on a tropical island, not trying to rub this little fact in I promise, we ate a lot of fruit and vegetables. In fact, I think there were times when mom would throw a few chicken scraps into the mix just to remind us what meat tasted like.
All of this fresh produce meant lots and lots of peelings and shavings that made their way into the dreaded pig bucket where they would sit and ferment so that when you opened the lid you would get punched in the nose with a hot burst of rotting odor while you were kamikazied by swarms of fruit flies.
Because I was the oldest boy and the “strongest” it was my job to empty the pig bucket when it was full. This was rather humorous because I was a scrawny little thing with the spindliest arms you ever saw, and by the time that bucket was full it probably weighed about as much as I did. So there I would go heaving this nasty bucket while fermenting fruit remnants slopped all down my legs. Early on I only had to take the bucket a short distance, but then my parents learned about this new invention called composting and I had to cart that awful bucket all the way down to the bottom of the yard and dump it in the banana patch.
But that was only half the battle. Afterwards I had to rinse out the bucket. We had an outside faucet with only one setting- full blast! You could hear the water rushing through the pipes picking up momentum before exploding out like a super soaker on steroids. So there I would be holding the bucket at arms length as water ricocheted off it spraying every which way. The last sticky food remnants flew at me latching on like leaches. By the time it was all over I’d swallowed a half dozen fruit flies and needed a shower.
There are a lot of pig bucket tasks in this life. As I’ve gotten older, they’ve just mutated into things like doing your taxes and shopping for groceries. With fatherhood just on the horizon I have a strange feeling that my pig bucket list is only going to get longer. Can anyone say dirty diapers! When I find myself getting frustrated by these responsibilities, I remember that sopping wet scrawny little kid covered in potato peels. I remember his determination and grittiness. I can’t help but smile. Life hasn’t changed that much. I stop complaining and take on the new pig bucket.