Don’t look, just don’t look. Turn your head. It won’t be there much longer. And it’s not that important.

And yet, it is. It’s been bugging me for two days now; plus, it smells.

Those of you who live in multiple-person households will understand. What I’m talking about is a point of contention the world over and probably always will be.

We’re talking the division of labor.

At issue in my home was the overflowing trash receptacle, which try as I might I could not ignore every time I walked into the kitchen. It didn’t bother my five male companions. No one said a thing; they just kept adding to an already full and growing mound.

My father would say they’re just making maximum use of the plastic-bag liner inside. You don’t want to “waste” any room. All I know is that if there were another female around here, she would agree that the situation stinks.

I’m not really the trash person; it’s on the half-and-half list. You know, that “honey do” scratch-off task sheet that all couples or families have. My situation works out well; I can’t complain. It was decided from the get-go. Early on, the husband and I worked this out.

I handle all laundry (a given) and buy groceries, though input is certainly welcome. For the most part, I wash dishes, in addition to the cooking and food-ordering. I pay the bills and organize the social calendar, and send out holiday and birthday cards, though he is the expert gift-wrapper.

He makes beds—something you couldn’t pay me to do (my mother is a nurse, and while I like hospital corners, I’m not about to put in such effort for a room most people never see). He eliminates live bugs (a given), fixes broken objects and sews buttons on clothes (he does!) And cleans bathrooms.

He’s gradually giving away mowing the lawn to the two older boys, though more often than not, I see him do it. I trim the trees and water the plants; he pots the annual flowers.

Not bad, right? But that still leaves those “no man’s land” line items.

Floors go to the college kid (he doesn’t mind them at all). The teenage refills the water pitcher and buys milk (we live in a semi-urban area, so he can walk to get some). The 11-year-old straightens the garage (though he’s the one that messes it up in the first place). As for the 8-year-old, he’s “the runner”—the one we send up and down flights of stairs delivering items and messages.

That still leaves the trash. More often than not during this extended “together” indoor experience, I wind up hauling the cans to the curb. The trucks come even earlier now on Thursdays to pick up the detritus of all these folks at home, when I am up getting a head start on work or haven’t yet slept.

Sometimes, I see the guys. We recognize each other by now, and offer the requisite waves and “good mornings.” I often watch as the truck rumbles its way down the street, doing all the dirty work.

I wonder if they get out of trash duty at home.

Carin M. Smilk is the managing editor of JNS.

This Reporter’s Notebook will appear starting on March 16 until the end of the month (or when schools reopen).

Support Jewish Journalism
with 2020 Vision

One of the most intriguing stories of the sudden Coronavirus crisis is the role of the internet. With individuals forced into home quarantine, most are turning further online for information, education and social interaction.

JNS's influence and readership are growing exponentially, and our positioning sets us apart. Most Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas. JNS is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

During this crisis, JNS continues working overtime. We are being relied upon to tell the story of this crisis as it affects Israel and the global Jewish community, and explain the extraordinary political developments taking place in parallel.

Our ability to thrive in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters. Monthly donations in particular go a long way in helping us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make during these challenging times. We thank you for your ongoing support and wish you blessings for good health and peace of mind.