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(Originally posted 8/08)

I don’t live in a bad area of Chicago. I don’t even live in a really shitty apartment building. At least I didn’t think so until this week.

I’ve been living in my current apartment for over a year. It’s a 1-bedroom in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood. It’s not perfect, but good enough for a guy on a budget.

My living room faces the street, and my bedroom window faces the alleyway behind my building.

The bedroom window also features something that only my apartment has: A strange quasi-balcony outside of it. It’s essentially a 4′ x 4′ balcony with an enclosed brick ledge around it- the only catch is, there’s no door leading to it. You have to scramble out the window.

Once you step out onto it, if you look straight up, you’ll just see windows and sky. There are no other balconies the rest of the 7 floors of the building. If you lived directly above me in any of the other 5 floors of apartments, looking down out your window would simply give you a clear view of this little area.

A bag of poop hangs from a tree.

They also flung dung out their front window. Here's a lovely bag snagged in a tree.

When I moved in I found bags of garbage on the balcony. Just random crap laying out there: remote controls, magazines, and chicken bones. And I didn’t really question why the junk was there, or even how it got there, I just knew that I didn’t want it there.

I’d call my landlord and they’d clean up the garbage– about a week later. Being a patient person (and a complete sucker), I would usually just take care of it myself. Every few months, I’d smell a rotten half-gallon of buttermilk or a pile of fly-covered fried chicken scraps. I never cared in the wintertime because it didn’t stink, but the summertime is a different story.

Imagine my surprise this past week when I discovered more shit on my balcony. Unfortunately, now I’m being literal.

There was actually a clear plastic produce bag filled with human feces, tied off neatly at the end in an overhand knot.

This is where I draw the line.

First of all, what would possess anybody to defecate into anything but a toilet?

Possible reasons for not shitting into a toilet:

1) You are a baby
2) You are very old
3) You are in a coma
4) You are camping in the deep woods
5) You are from a developing nation and have never seen such a device
6) American Airlines is cutting their budget and emptying their latrines at 70,000′ and this is all a big coincidence

I can eliminate 1 and 2 as possibilities because there is no presence of a diaper in this crime scene. Scenario 3 is out simply because the shit was not in a bedpan. The chances of #4 being the one? Slim.

Scenario five is a stretch, but possible. Then again, this person clearly can afford white Hefty bags.

There is also a distinct possibility that the person is a war veteran who served on bombing missions, is having flashbacks and is first dropping garbage bags down to my balcony and then hanging their ass out their bedroom window and squeezing out turds with military accuracy. Or perhaps the person was bullied when they were in school, and due to a Swirly-induced fear of porcelain, can now squat into white objects, but just not ones that can hold 4 gallons of water and can accommodate a human head.

Even so. If you only have the mental capacity to fire your ass off in a plastic bag, why drop it out your bedroom window and make it my problem? Why?

I don’t clean up other peoples’ shit. I just don’t. To get to a point where you are cleaning up the lowest form of matter in the universe– and it’s not even your own–hell no. I would even make the exception for your own child. But other than that, absolutely not.

A zoomed-in shot of the feces hanging from a tree.

Let's take a closer look at exhibit P.

Janitors and garbage collectors are hard-working people and have respectable jobs and are vital to society’s infrastructure. And that being said, I would rather wash my crotch with a burning cactus than do what they do.

I have had lousy jobs before. I’ve been a one-man Hummer interior light assembly line, answered phones for imbeciles, alphabetized folders, done months of data entry, cold-called construction sites in Saskatchewan and edited wedding music videos for bridezillas. We all have our low points.

Three days later, a rancid stench wafted through my apartment. I looked out my window to find a larger, white garbage bag containing what appeared to be the diarrhea of a small rhinoceros. This time the rhino hadn’t the courtesy to tie the bag off and just let it fall and explode everywhere like a balloon filled with chili.

I considered knocking on doors. But imagine how that would go.

Tenant: Yes?
Owen: Are you pooping on my balcony?
Tenant: No.
Owen: Thanks for your time.

What else can I do, make them prove it?

I called my landlord today. He seemed concerned and said he’d take care of it. Not soon enough, because today’s bounty was another treasure trove of undigestables. Tomorrow? Probably another.

Note that I don’t have air conditioning and I’m sure as hell not opening that window.

I ultimately wound up wrapping my hand in a plastic bag, grabbing the bags and flinging them down to the alley. ┬áIf it wasn’t my problem to begin with, I intended to keep it that way.

Until I move, I might reconsider grilling burgers on that balcony.

UPDATE: I moved.

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