Saturday, February 12, 2011

Garbage Collection

My father left a number of impressions with me. One of them being a strong recollection of his running dissatisfaction with garbage collection services of the 1950s and 1960s; the years I lived in his house. As a kid, I had a lot of house chores to do, but taking the garbage out was one Dad kept for himself and consistently complained about the service. I think it became a matter of wills over who was going to call the shots. Trouble was that garbage collectors tend to occupy a similar spot as does the anus in the old joke about who is the boss of the human body. Perhaps you’ve heard the joke.

Dad was a 20-year old Lt. in the WWII Air Force and at an early age had grown accustomed to having people jump when he barked a command. Of course, civilian life was different in that respect, and the garbage collectors tended to be different still. They generally set the rules of garbage collection, not the customers. I think Dad hated that. After a running battle with one garbage collection service, he even started wrapping his garbage in red ribbon, complete with bows just like a gift. True story.

Of course, we are all accustomed to having our garbage collected on a certain day of the week, maybe even twice a week. I’ve found that during my run at life, garbage collection has tended to be rather inconspicuous and of only minor irritation. But now and then, a new driver can change things and introduce irritation for a few collection cycles.

Our local rules are to place garbage in bags and then bags into cans. I tried doing it that way years ago, but with women in the house, we have always been significant bottom-line contributors to all the major paper companies and have produced far more garbage than can be conveniently fit into a can or even two of them; so, I prefer to use just the bags without the cans. My rationale is that one trip out with the bags is less work than two trips required by using the cans—one to leave it out and another to retrieve the cans.

Our local lady garbage Nazi clucks at me at times about my bags…but she’s been doing that for 20-years without result. We understand each other. One thing about garbage Nazis is that they are good at clucking, but weak at conflict.

Yes, yes, I know the animal problem argument and have suffered some irritation with aggressive squirrels, crows, a fox now and then, and a herd of raccoons at one house; however, overall I’ve experienced very little animal problems over the span of about 40-years of fussing with the garbage.

Most irritating is when a regular driver establishes a predictable schedule, then suddenly changes it, as happened again this week. The week before last, after months of picking up about mid-morning, he shows up in the late afternoon. Last week, he skipped a day and showed up the next. This week, as I’m enjoying my morning coffee, expecting him to come about mid-morning, he shows up at the crack of dawn. I’ve got to get it out before I planned…now my schedule is being jerked around by this joker who has suddenly gone erratic. Maybe I should use some of Dad’s red ribbon?


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