Wednesday, November 28, 2007

This Moment Of Suburban Living Brought To You By TMST

I've got a bunch of things to do today, but first I'm going to watch from the second story office window as the trash guy passes. I always look to see if they are dismayed at the amount of crap I leave for them, and this week I have an inordinate amount of it -my old bathroom flooring for one. In the past they've left me a Red Card, as if in violation of some technical sports foul. No doubt it escalates to something much worse if I persist. The Red Cards, it seems, are dolled out somewhat indiscriminately, based solely on the mood of the garbage man. As a contractor, I've always got old wood, tiles, bricks, piles of hardened cement and chunks of steel and let me tell you, Garbage Man no likey. There is a space on the Red Card that reads "Construction Debris" and you can see the indignation in the slash where they check the box. Usually, if I keep the trash cans under 50 pounds, the guys will haul it off. And it needs to be in the barrels, too, or it just gets left. Of course, my old flooring is rolled up and just sticking out of the barrel a good three feet, so it concerns me. Sometimes they Red Card me, sometimes they don't. Either way, you've got to be gracious about it. Of all the people in the neighborhood you don't want to alienate, the Garbage Man tops the list.

I appreciate the Old School garbage man that we have. You fill your trash cans and they manhandle them into the truck. A lot of people have the big rolling bin that gets hoisted up over the truck by the giant claw like out of some space opera. Sure, these bins are handy for the trash man, who can operate the whole system from the driver's seat, but those things barely fit through the gate on the side of the house, and then you find that if you have a party that week, you can't fit all their garbage in it and you get Red Carded because the lid wasn't shut all the way. Some people on my street have multiple rolling bins, and it appears that the garbage man tolerates everything with his truck, so I guess he's not old school after all.

And we have three garbage guys, too, another one for yard trimmings and one for recycling. All three come on the same day. This is a far cry from my youth where a couple of guys would heft and rattle those old, dented metal cans into a truck. I remember the day as a kid when the first blue plastic recycling bin came to the house, and there was some consternation over it throughout the community. What do we recycle again? This plastic, but not that plastic? And then there were three bins: plastic, paper, aluminum. But not magazines. And there were a lot of people who were washing out the tin cans before they put them in the box. Anyway, it was madness until someone realized it was too much trouble altogether, and so now it goes into one bin and is separated by The Great Machine.

It sounds unbelievable, but it exists. I know, I've seen it. There is, in fact, A Great Machine that separates all the recycled stuff. It all ends up in compressed 6'x6' blocks and is then loaded onto a truck and hauled off to who-knows-where. I work in the aluminum business, so I recycle my trimmings all the time. I do it for the money, of course, and it helps keep the Reef Aquarium running in the living room. Also, since I'm down there, I just bring my own recycling -bottles, plastic, cans. I keep three trash cans on the side of my house and I just fill them up every month. It's beer money! It cracks me up that I get beer money from my old beer bottles. The recycling plant is right near Costco, where they sell good cheap beer, so it's all very convenient. If you are putting your recycling out on the curb, you're just giving your beer money to the garbage man, but hey, he deserves it.

Yes, excellent, he hauled it all off! I watched the look on his face and it was the get-it-done look of someone trying to get through Hump Day. God help those folks whose garbage man comes on a Friday. I just picture untouched trash and Red Cards all the way down the block.

I heard an interview with a medical scientist on the radio a while back and the question was put to him, who has done more for world health in the twentieth century than anyone else? Answer? The Garbage Man. I, for one, believe it.

God bless the Garbage Man.