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Steve Bartlett: The trashiest column in today’s paper

Fast food
Fast food


A transformer blew and the power went out in the middle of the “Tangled,” a Disney-fied version of “Rapunzel.”

The kids were upset.

I told them it was a power outage, there was nothing I could do, and to let down their hair.

They didn’t understand.

I suggested they play until the power came back.

They did that peacefully for 1.5763 seconds and then sibling war broke out.

It was 7:30 on a Saturday morning and I had been trying to give my wife some much-deserved rest.

I doubted she was getting much sleep with the drama unfolding in our basement.

Swimming lessons were at 9 a.m. and there is a McDonalds on the way to the pool, so I decided to leave now and make a breakfast stop along the way.

The dining area was about half full, mostly adults drinking coffee and reading their Saturday paper.

The kids dug into hotcake meals.

I, too, sipped coffee and read the paper.

The kids asked to head for the playroom once they finished eating.

We didn’t have to leave for the pool for 35 minutes so that wasn’t a problem.

Red with embarrassment, I considered stuffing my whole body in the waste bin.

I started to clean up the mess, piling everything on the tray and then heading for the garbage.

Pulling the handle forward, I slid the tray in the slot and dumped the containers and paper on the tray.

That’s when I noticed the unpeeled Monopoly stickers in the trash on the kids’ hashbrown bags and my coffee cup.

I don’t even play McMonopoly, but I’m well aware Parliament Hill and Rideau Canal are worth $150,000, the top prize and enough money to put a big smile on my face.

“What if I just threw away one of those big money pieces?” I asked myself.

With that, and without thinking, I stuck my arm in the bin and fished for the packaging.

It was a new twist on the three-second rule.

Arm in bin up to the shoulder, it struck me that I was wearing a jacket with “The Telegram” — the name of the newspaper where I work — emblazoned across the back.


Red with embarrassment, I considered stuffing my whole body in the waste bin.

I was apprehensive to turn around or make eye contact with anyone as I slowly walked towards my table with the retrieved trash.

Was there a person or group of people staring at me, eyebrows raised, wondering what the newspaper guy was doing or looking for?

I prepared for questions of concern — “Do you want some change?” — and smarty-pants quips — “Your writing really is garbage!”

But no one seemed to take notice.

So I sat and peeled the pieces. They turned out to be “Halifax Airport” and “Lake Athabasca” — pieces that carried no instant win but places where I would love to be at that moment.

If someone had said something, I would have told them, briskly passing go and heading for the door, “Journalists have to be prepared to dig at all times and places.”

Steve Bartlett is an editor with SaltWire Network. He dives into the Deep End Mondays to escape reality and the board game KerPlunk. Reach him at

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