There must be a pony in here somewhere

On trash-collection day, the Solid Waste people leave the trashcan lid flipped open to show that it’s been emptied. The practicing pessimist is concerned to arrive home and see the lid closed.

It can mean one thing only: some generous passer-by has deposited a gift. For reasons unfathomable, people who do this rarely leave the cover open. The lucky recipient is fortunate if the deposit is something like an empty cigarette pack, beer can, or fast-food container of some sort.

The most frequent offering, though, is dropped by a dog-walker and comes encased in a plastic newspaper sleeve, most obnoxiously in a blue one. Those inclined to this form of benovolence tend to select the larger breeds of dogs as their animal companions. Thank you! But I’d rather have the offering left naked in the yard, where the rains, when they eventually fall, will wash it all away, than melting and stinking at the very bottom of the trash receptacle. Or take it home with you, creephead!

(The pony story is most often associated these days with Ronald Reagan, who told a modernized version. The form in which it came from the older generation always involved a little boy who wanted the best premium for selling the greatest quantities of something from door to door; sometimes it was Rosebud Salve and other times it was subscriptions to the Saturday Evening Post. His optimism was always displayed on Christmas morning, when he rushed out to the barn expecting to see his prize waiting for him.)

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