Misunderstandings Stink!

Misunderstandings Stink!

Living in a small city, close to Houston, TX we were expected to separate our garbage into categories: debris, glass and newspapers. Details are not my thing! So I didn’t worry about small stinky discrepancies.

My husband, after skinning some fish, put the skeletal remains in a folded up newspaper, then placed it in the garbage can. The sanitation worker, seeing the newspaper, refused to pick up the garbage!

After repeated calls went to a tape-recorded message, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

Taking Care of Debris

It had been several weeks, so the debris by now had grown maggots and produced a stench. I re-bagged the worst of it. Dressed up in heels, and a form fitting short dress, and took the spoilage down to the sanitation department.

It was the lunch hour. As I crossed the parking lot, I attracted the sanitation workers attention. I wanted them to know I was there!

I followed the sign that said, “Sanitation Department” and found a man sitting behind a desk, feet up, and talking on the phone. I placed my stinky debris on his desk. He hung up immediately and asked:

“May I help you?”

“Repeatedly, I have called this office for removal of my garbage with no results.” I told him. “Unless the rest of the debris is removed from my house when I come home from work this afternoon, you can expect to find the remains piled on top of your desk tomorrow!”

“Furthermore,” I told him, “Every time it is not picked up, I will personally deliver the maggots to your desk!”

He explained how it was hard to get good help these days and that there must have been some misunderstanding.

“No misunderstanding,” I told him. “You will personally receive my garbage every time it is not picked up!”

As a result of my disgust, he assured me that that would not be necessary and that he would personally call the sanitation manager himself and make sure my debris was taken care of.

I stopped and looked him straight in the eye, “Aren’t you the sanitation manager?”

“No Ma’am! I’m the city planner!”


 Well, I made an impression. Not quite the image I was hoping to project!

 Have you ever had a misunderstanding and then had to back down?

 I must have followed the signs… in the wrong direction! Details! My self-righteousness had blinded me to the correct direction of an arrow.

 As I reflected on this incident, I realized the stench of the garbage outside my garage door was not the only debris that needed to be dumped. My heart, fat with self-righteousness, needed a good cleaning, too.

 Instead of spending my time in anger and disgust, I decided to spend a little more time in prayer: understanding my need for humility. Humility that cleans up messes, rather than adding to them!  


Misunderstandings can escalate when we believe we are right!  Sometimes it is wiser to slow down, take a breath and give another person grace.

 Humility, a modest look at your own importance, can save you the embarrassment of “losing face” in a stinky situation.

Taking time to pray BEFORE you act, believing God gives wisdom to handle situations with tact, affords you the grace you hope others will give you!


 “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3

 “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? …You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:1-5

 “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” James 3:13

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