I've long questioned just how structurally sound my apartment building is, particularly the exterior bathroom wall. This wall is right at the L bend in the alley, so looking out the bathroom window gives a view up the alley towards the street. For whatever reason, the garbage trucks always enter the alley at that entrance by driving in reverse towards our building. I can't imagine that the tight 90 degree turn is easy in a huge truck but I have absolutely no idea why they do the whole thing backwards. It seems to unnecessarily complicate an already difficult situation, but I must assume that there is some sort of logic behind it. On several occasions I've walked out of the back entrance to the building only to find the garbage truck backing towards me. I would quickly retreat back inside and use the front door instead. I had already assumed that the exterior wall was in such disrepair that the simple act of hitting the bricks with a hammer could potentially bring down the entire building. Each time I witnessed the garbage truck driving in reverse down the alley I would always wonder if the building would be intact when I returned. And yet the garbage has been picked up twice a week since September and our apartment has yet to collapse into the basement.
A few days ago I was taking a shower earlier than usual when I heard the rhythmic beeping of a large vehicle backing up. I flipped the curtain back briefly to glance out and was confronted with the back of a bright yellow garbage truck. I'm not the type of person who pictures their own death around every corner. I don't worry about plane crashes, car accidents or T drivers texting while operating trains. But when I saw that 25 ton yellow behemoth headed slowly towards me, I was convinced it was a harbinger of my imminent and very naked death. In an instant I saw how it would happen: the truck would just scrape the bricks, cracking the wall as it began to cave in. First the basement wall would go, and then the floor and the tub. I'd fall along with the rest of the bathroom as brick and wood tumbled down around me. My body would rest in the rubble, stunned and injured but still alive, until the upper floors began to cave in on top of me. My last living memory would be of that incessant beeping of a truck in reverse and maybe a fleeting thought of, "they'll find me naked!" Initially the police and firefighters would think nobody had been injured. But then one of the search dogs would catch my scent and signal that there was a body in the rubble. They'd work frantically to clear the debris, only to find my naked and soapy body crushed helplessly. The incident would, of course, make headlines. My 15 minutes of fame would be carried in newspapers and cable news: "Boston Man Dies While Showering in Freak Garbage Truck Incident."
I briefly considered jumping out of the shower and running naked down the hallway. No, I would stay in the shower and risk death rather than make a huge ass out of myself. There isn't a good way to explain that situation to roommates. "Well, the garbage truck was about to slowly crash into the building in reverse and I didn't want to die naked," would probably not be something they would sympathize with. I stood there motionless, all too conscious of the beeping getting louder as the truck approached. The sounds finally passed as the truck continued on its backwards journey down the alley. I finished washing the shampoo out of my hair and dried off, altogether relieved that I hadn't died in a most embarrassing fashion.