Mom Repeatedly Mistaken for Garbage Can


Local journalist and mother of three, Marie Jackson-Smith, suffers a recurring medical condition where she’s often mistaken for a garbage can.

There’s no clear reason for this confusion, since the 5’6” blond woman in no way resembles a trash receptacle. Yet the issue has plagued her for years.

On an almost daily basis, young people drop balled-up napkins into her hands and tuck popsicle sticks into her pockets. Fruit-snack wrappers simply materialize in her purse and the center console of her Volkswagen. In fact, she’s even had gum spat directly into her palms—on more than one occasion!

This phenomenon doesn’t just occur with her own offspring and their friends. Her husband also once attempted to hand her some empty beer bottles.

“You’re giving those to me?” she questioned, looking behind her in case he was reaching for a recycling bin she couldn’t see.

“Oh, I’m actually not a trash can,” she noted, clarifying her unique medical condition.

But the issue doesn’t end there.

The other day her dog, a delightful black lab mix, delivered directly to her feet a baby rabbit carcass to dispose of. Said canine also defecates on every single walk they take together, looking up at the woman with the expectation that she will take care of the mess (which she does, of course).

Her unique challenge is especially noticeable if you’ve ever ridden in the Jackson-Smith family vehicles.

Her Volkswagen’s doors are stuffed with gunky toys and coupons and the floors are lined with Goldfish crumbs, Lego guys and crushed dog treats, as wisps of straw wrappers flutter through the air.

She contends this noticeable trash infusion must have something to do with her personally, because her same children often ride in their father’s Jeep, which happens to be spotless.

As Jackson-Smith was being interviewed for this story, her son literally bumped into and then detoured around an actual trash container in order to hand his mother a dirty tissue, offering solid confirmation of this unfortunate condition.

“See?” she sighed. “They think I’m a human garbage can.”


About the Author

Jacqueline Miller is the lone female in a house full of guys. She travels freakishly light and can balance two kids on her Dutch bicycle. Her recent articles appear in Grown & Flown and Her View From Home, and she’s working on a book about her three years in the Netherlands. If you enjoyed this, you can follow her at and