GROB: The Charles City Can Bandits strike again

By James Grob,

There are three things you need to know.

First, the notorious Charles City Can Bandits are back, and more brazen than ever.

Second, I like cold Coca-Cola in small glass bottles.

James Grob
James Grob

Third — the first two things you just read are more directly related than they appear to be at first glance.

Let me explain.

Last week there was a bad smell in the kitchen. I don’t like it when there’s a bad smell in the kitchen. I strongly believe that kitchens should consist of good, appetizing, comforting smells, perpetually.

So I cleaned the kitchen. I took out the garbage, I cleaned the cupboards, the counters — even the refrigerator — getting rid of any and all foodstuff and biodegradable products that could be considered “less than fresh.” I wiped things down with lemon-scented cleansers, and even destroyed all stains and growths that seemed mold-like. The kitchen was clean.

And yet, the smell still lingered. I soon discovered why.

As I mentioned earlier, I like cold Coca-Cola in small glass bottles.

I used to drink a lot of soda-pop. All my doctors told me not to. My body needs water —  a lot of water — and drinking a lot of pop tricks my body into thinking it has enough water, when it doesn’t. Besides that, all that sugar and caffeine and carbonation just isn’t good for you, they told me, and I was ingesting a metric ton of it every day.

So, for reasons I won’t go into here, I finally respected my doctor’s wishes. I didn’t quit drinking pop, I just cut way down. I decided to make pop an occasional treat once or twice a week, rather than a regular staple of my everyday diet.

My favorite pop was always ice-cold Coke in a glass bottle, so that’s what I started buying. Very small glass bottles of Coke, to occasionally treat myself.

And so, those little empty bottles sit in a corner of the kitchen. And eventually, when there are enough of them, my wife or I will take them to be redeemed for a deposit, along with all the other redeemable cans we have in the house.

What had happened is, a little mouse had crawled into one of those little bottles some time ago to get a little leftover sweet soda for himself — and he couldn’t get out.

The mouse died in there. RIP. Then he started to smell bad.

Of course, since I’m no longer drinking large quantities of pop, it takes a long time before there’s enough redeemable containers built up to make it worthwhile to bring in for a deposit. So dead little Coca-Cola Mouse just sat there, decayed, and stunk up the joint. My wife finally discovered him. Well, she discovered his remains.

i won’t go into detail, but she cleaned up the situation, and then collected all the redeemable cans and bottles we had together, bagged them, and put them outside, on our deck.

Now, a few weeks ago, I told you in a column here about the Charles City Can Bandits. When my wife and I returned from Memorial Day weekend, two garbage bags of cans had been stolen.

They were mostly recycled aluminum pop and beer cans. We had collected about three months’ worth of cans, my wife had neatly and efficiently bagged them up and placed them near our house.

We usually give our can money to charity. The plan was to grab the two bags of cans one morning that week, toss them into the trunk of the car, and take them over to a fundraising friend’s house on the way to work.

That plan came to a screeching halt when we realized the cans were gone. We thought it would be reactionary to call the police over something that trivial, but the Great Can Theft, as I call it, did disturb me a little, and I wrote about it here. Then I forgot about it.

Tuesday, the Charles City Can Bandits struck again. They stole our redeemable stinky dead mouse containers. Just like last time, it wasn’t like the bags were obvious from the road. Whoever it was had to walk up, through our yard, to our house — and up on our deck — to look through things until he (or she) found something worth taking and easy to heist.

Once again, I don’t want the cans back, I don’t want the money that was redeemed, and I don’t want whoever did it to get into any legal trouble.

I just want people to not come up on my deck, uninvited, and look through my things.

Stop it, whoever you are. If you want my cans, just politely ask me, and they’re yours.

I’ll even remove the dead mice for you.