Carpet Cleaning in Alabama, Part 2:
Z and I went on another cleaning trip out in... I believe it was Helena, but don't quote me. Anyway, it was a house as full of junky clutter as my apartment. The clutter extended out into the yard. There was a little girl standing in the bed of a truck, roughly five years old, pretty as a postcard, but wearing nothing but a saggy diaper. Big bonfire in the front yard; they were burning trash. Cleaning carpet involved carrying a bunch of equipment into the house and hooking it up to our truck, so we had to go in and out of the house making the connections, walking back and forth past the fire, inhaling plenty of smoke. The man of the house threw huge sheets of plastic on the fire, and the poisonous reek of burning plastic filled the air, clogging our lungs, filling the air around this trashy Dogpatch domicile. The actual cleaning went pretty quick because they didn't want us to move anything; just clean the carpet we could see. Since almost no floor was visible it was a quick job. Afterward we presented the receipt and the little old pink-eyed lady of the house explained (no one had asked) that it may be illegal to burn trash, but it costs too much to afford trash service. "Everybody around here burns," she said. "Everybody burns."