The Great Poubelle Garbage Strike

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The meeting was about to come to order; Joe Detritus of the planet Poubelle was to address the gathering. He had convoked the reunion of his comrades only after every avenue towards a solution had been explored. But the human leaders would not compromise and steadfastly held to the status quo. Now his way was clear, and the only solution presented itself blatantly to the leaders of the "United Refuse Eaters" union. Being their president, he had to take most of the responsibility for what was going to happen. A great amount of suffering would befall the human beings and his conscience was hardly appeased by the rightness of his cause. So it was with a heavy heart that he outlined to his subjects the task at hand;

"Fellow Poubellers, it is with great sorrow that I address you tonight on matters that will be unpleasant, to us and to the earthmen. Because they obstinately refuse to grant us our God given rights we can no longer postpone what has to be done; we must act decisively now for our liberation from the claws of their oppression. We have been exploited long enough, it is time that we rise against their tyranny; the hour for them to realise our real worth is here. Only then will they grant us equal status within their society".

"We have been scorned and spat upon long enough. I realise that being spat on is most enjoyable, still it is an insult in the human social code. Their prejudice is based on very little differences between our races. It is not for them to judge a people by the food that they eat. Just because they consider that the consumption of garbage and faecal matter a vile and lowly practice, does not give them the right to prevent us from leading a comfortable and meaningful life. Is it not we who for them daily dispose of tons of delicious waste and transform it into a form that they use as fertiliser? Through us nothing is wasted but finds its way back into the ecosystem. We even sort the metal objects out of the refuse so they can be used again. And did we not reduce the pestilence that beset them all through their history? What have they done for us to repay our great services? They give us all we can eat, yes, but we do not live on expectoration and coffee grounds alone. We must have a life that is as rewarding in challenge and achievement as is theirs. Which means complete integration in their society as equal partners; of course this includes the employment of our citizens. What little stipend they send our way for the fertiliser only serves to keep us in our decrepit ghettos, vegetating our lives away in idleness. They must be made to realise that we are not just dung eaters but that we have minds that can be put to good use.

"In conclusion dear friends, I urge you to adhere to the boycott that we, the legally voted members of your council have decreed to be impose on our exploiters: we are to refrain from eating anything so as to trigger our hibernating phase. This meeting will reconvene in 2 months when we all should awaken from our slumber."

"There being nothing also on the agenda, meeting is adjourned."

It was done as J. J. Detritus demanded. And not long after the hibernation of the Poubelle people started., the garbage began piling in great masses all over the world; the rodent populations exploded; faeces, no longer filtered off to be consumed, were dumped directly into the waterways rendering them putrid.

At the height of the crisis a meeting of world leaders was held in Geneva, presided by the Canadian delegate, Peter Waterhole who addressed the gathering in these terms:

"Ladies and Gentlemen this meeting was called so as to pool out resources to try and find a solution to the predicament that has been thrust upon the world by the ungrateful dung eaters. I urge you then to convey to us any solution that has been applied in your respective countries to eradicate this evil blight. As you probably know in Canada the only solution found was to dump everything in the most northerly parts of the North West Territories and the Yukon. But these measures can only be temporary, as we cannot afford to go without the fertiliser for a long time and the large expenditures in energy for the transportation of refuse is too great to be viable over an extended period of time. I now ask you as spoke-persons for your respective countries, but with humanity in mind to present any measures that your homeland has taken to alleviate the hardship that befell out peaceful little planet."

Indigo Gungho the delegate from India rose and spoke in these terms;

"We of India are not so blessed as our Canadian friends we do not possess any frozen wasteland upon which we can dispose of our waste; as all land is cultivated we must dispatch any detritus to the sea. This solution has already killed our fishing industry, causing a mounting famine which can only worsen the reduced yield of our crops, impoverished by lack of fertiliser is realised.

Next spoke Cartel Monopoly of the USA.

"We in America, looked at the problem from another angle. We researched the literature of pre-dung-eaters times. We found that our ancestors did indeed have reclamation plants that partially solved their problems. I say, partially because these plants consumed some energy and were not one hundred percent efficient in transforming the various kinds of organic waste. But the major problem facing us is that the technology is over two hundred years old and training people in the construction and maintenance of these plants would take several months let alone the time needed for construction of the plants themselves, not forgetting the lost arable land taken by the buildings. The cost in lives is too great for us to contemplate implementing these measures. No fellow leaders we of America have not found an answer and the senate came to the consensus of suggesting to this meeting that we should agree to the shit-gourmets' terms.

As the remaining delegates had no further suggestions to present a vote was taken, and it was unanimously decided to give in to the Poubellers demands. An appeal was made to the Poubellers at the end of their two month hibernation to join Earth's society as equals in an integrated and free community; Poubellers would share in everything: housing recreation, work and the governing of the land. With great pleasure J. J. Detritus accepted on behalf of his comrades, and they in turn rejoiced for days consuming all the shit and trash they could find.

The adjustment the agreement entailed was not easy, for the humans that is. Oh sure they learned to work side by side with the Poubellers, to spend their spare time alongside in theatres and sport arenas. They even renounced calling them by derogatory terms such as dung-eaters and faeces faces. But as one factory worker put it:

"I still can't get used to going into the cafeteria and watching one of them open his lunch box and take out banana peels spread with dried shit, along with a drumstick of carrion cat followed by a broth of squished flies in fuming hot urine along with a glass of homogenised puss for refreshment. Why I just bend over forward and puke!"

Which is why the Poubellers do not find the need to bring any desert in their lunch box.

Originally published in Copper Toadstool No 4, May 1978

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