There's a man stuffed into the trash compactor of my garbage truck. A very dead man. I don't exactly feel good about putting him there, but, truth be told, my focus is now on how I'll avoid jail, or worse, joining him in among the bagfuls of dirty diapers, discarded Saturday night shooters, and Clucking Bell leftovers. Just another day in GTA Online roleplay.
I'm a garbageman in Los Santos, see, and I take pride in my work – out of bed at 6am, at the office for 8am, out on my round till 5pm, then I wash down the truck in the yard, and head home to my Tinsel Towers apartment. Five days a week, 12 months a year.
The GTA 5 roleplay scene on PC encourages players to live by real-world rules, such as holding down a 9-5 job, and generally abiding by the law. Murdering people as a rogue garbageman isn't advised, but with drug dealers, mobsters, and assassins all working in the underbelly of the city, each server's player-run police service has its work cut out. Open source multiplayer mod FiveM is a great place to start, and, until GTA 6, the roleplay scene a great way to breathe new life into Rockstar’s crime sim.
Day from hell
On this day, I'd just finished a routine shift, and was heading back to headquarters when some prick in a flashy sports car ran a red light, and hit the side of my Trashmaster. I pulled over, hopped out to examine the damage, and cringed hard at the three foot-long scores now etched into the truck's passenger side paintwork. My poor baby.
"Hey, asshole!" a voice called from behind.
I turned to face it, and in an instant was met by the aggrieved owner of a now totalled white Dinka Jester, the player shouting and screaming about how I was going to pay for the damage to his car. I said I wasn't, obviously, and suggested it was he who should be apologising for blindsiding me. That really upset him. He got right in my face, so close I could smell the Bean Machine coffee on his breath, arms flailing, cheeks reddening, headset mic-bursting, but I backed away, telling him to piss off as I did.
And then he swung for me.
In hindsight, I probably could have bitten my tongue. I could have pushed him away, and darted back to the cab of my truck. I could have sped off, and, tail between my legs, explained the ordeal to my boss, insisting that I was in the right, and that I was accosted by some lunatic in a brown fitted shirt, bootcut jeans, and questionable white and red leather shoes.
But I didn't. What I did do, was smack three shades of shite out of him on the spot, until he was laid flat out and sparkled on the sidewalk. Not breathing. And very, very dead. In a moment of disbelief, I stood over the man's lifeless body with my hands raised as if to say: I might have taken things too far.
I looked up and down the quiet side street and saw no witnesses. I clocked the roleplay server's EMS player counter, and saw that six police officers were online – which meant if I hung around much longer, I'd be caught red-handed. Panicked at the mere thought of serving time in Bolingbroke Penitentiary, I bagged the man like a pile of trash, dragged him back to the truck, and prayed no one noticed the streaks of crimson now seeping from the garbage bag, likewise staining the tarmac dark red.
And now I have a man stuffed into the trash compactor of my garbage truck. Of that, I am certain. What I'm less certain of, though, is why I feel such a rush having served vigilante justice to this mouthy man. I've crossed a line, undoubtedly, but there's something liberating about shutting him down while putting my own spin on GTA's renowned 'Wasted' kill screen.
Does that explain why I've also now butchered, bagged, and binned another three bodies? A cantankerous old woman cut me off at an intersection. Butchered. An impatient 20-something guy honked his horn at me a nanosecond after the lights had changed. Bagged. An old man said hello to me in Mirror Park. Seriously, why do strangers always say hello as they pass in public parks? Who knows, who cares. Binned.
With a taste for blood, I couldn’t stop. An innocuous conversation, a passer by, a mere look in my direction – there was never too much or too little to set me off, as I doubled and tripled my workload on a daily basis. Non-recyclables, plastics, cardboard, human flesh. Yes, yes, yes, oh yes.
In my previous experience of GTA RP servers (I almost always play on one of FiveM's customised servers), when things start to go awry – i.e., when refuse collectors begin mimicking Jack the Ripper – you'll hear about it on the streets in real-time.
Many roleplay servers pride themselves in keeping strict rules to a minimum, allowing players to discover each world's intricacies through interaction, trial, error, and hearsay. And any time I've fallen foul of the law – robbing banks, running guns, bin murder, and the likes – I've caught wind of it at Legion Square, the funfair at Vespucci Beach, or the hangars at the back of Los Santos International Airport to name but a few well-populated spots for impromptu gatherings.
In this instance, it was while emptying the dumpsters next to the Ferris wheel at Del Perro Pier that I heard two hipsters chatting over voice comms about a downtown killing whose assailant was still at large. I smiled, thought little of it, and went about my rounds as normal. Inconspicuousness is key.
Later that day, a message flashed across the server's Lifeinvader UI chat stream (the base game's slant on real world social media), asking for an emergency trash pickup in Vinewood Hills. The sender informed me that they'd had a house party, promising a hefty tip for the inconvenience, and while I wouldn't normally take on extra work during working hours, I also wouldn't normally kill people on the job, so, you know, why not?
You know that scene in Goodfellas, where Tommy DeVito is really excited about getting made, and then it all turns out to be a ruse, and he instead gets shot through the eye? That was me pulling up to the luxury pad in the northern end of the city, before getting one in the back of the head and stuffed into my own truck.
That guy in the white leather shoes that started this whole ordeal? He was a member of the Petrov gangster family, it turns out. A Made Guy, and the cousin of a mob boss.
What goes around comes around, I think to myself, as I now lay flat out on the asphalt, dumped in the boulevard like the trash I once collected – a clear message to rogue garbagemen all over the city. Salou! This'll be my first day off work since I started the job. And my first day at the recycling centre in the sky.