Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Garbage Man Always Rings Twice

Garbage is a helluva pain in the ole ass. The overflowingness. The stench. The littering about. The bugs it breeds. The coons that cluster! There’s so much of it. It’s a bottomless, never-ending monster that just doesn’t go away.

And unfortunately there’s nothing we can do about it.

What stinks the most about garbage, though, is the removal of it. I honestly don’t know which method is the worst. But here are my top (er, bottom) three.

1. To the dump, to the dump, to the dump, dump, dump! If you live in the boonies (aka Sharon Mountain), then there is no such thing as a garbage man. (Well, I suppose there is...and his name is Tim Parry.) You have to toss your trash at the transfer station with your own two hands. Hopefully you own a truck (thankfully Papa P for that purpose alone).

2. Yes you can, can, can drag it out to the street. Big Rubbermaid bins house your refuse in your backyard (where nasty ass little hornets prowl, waiting to sting the shit out of you), until the garbage man himself comes. I’ve never experienced this so I don’t quite know how it works. But I believe you leave your garbage out front on a certain day at a certain hour.

3. Hands OFF. This is the most convenient option for we waste-producers (formally known as humans). Luckily it’s also the one I abide by. When you live in New York City, all you’s gotta do is toss your garbage in the proper bin on your way out: trash, bottles and cans, paper products. Easy, peasy, Japanesey. (Well I suppose we’re owed that simplicity in a big way – we do pay our lives away, after all.)

Alas, there is a slight problemo with this last alternativo. Something that irks me, paints scowl wrinkles on my face, contaminates my vision, makes me trip, wakes me up (!!!!). That something is the overreaching, all-encompassing inconvenience of trash being left on our sidewalks, awaiting an a.m. pickup.

When I was Super Shuttling it from LaGuardia back to the Village last Wednesday, a fellow passenger chatted me up. He was born in Detroit, currently resides in D.C., and was visiting New York for the second time ever.

He amiably asked question upon question and I enlightened him – somewhat biasedly – explaining that uptown is where old married couples live, midtown is plain g-ross, and downtown is where it’s at.

I told him to get pizza at Bleecker Street and Joe’s. That there was a good Thai place on 18th and 8th he should try. I pointed out the NY Public Library and the Empire State building and I babbled on – unawkwardly for some strange reason (perhaps I was still in my traumatized trance from the boobs of Miami) – until I had nothing left to say. There was a lull.

He broke it by saying, “Oh yeah, I remember that.” I asked what he was talking about. “The trash all over the sidewalks.”

I was taken aback. I couldn’t help it. Don’t diss my city, dude! Not that I don’t notice the mountains of black bags, I just think I’m a little immune to our unsavory refuse-removal-routine.

Unfortunately he was right. Is right. Piles and piles of garbage on our sidewalks – unsightly indeed! I don’t know what’s to be done about it though. Too many tenants means two tons of trash and no where for it to go but out, out, OUTside. So bags amass and sidewalks topple with rubbish.

Let me acknowledge the fact that I do, indeed, have profound respect for garbage men. No one wants to do that job. No one grows up dreaming of one day working in waste management. In the rain, in the snow, in the bitter cold and the blistering heat. No dankes.

So I suppose I can’t blame them for being pissy. For throwing cans about and revving their engines and leaving the compactors grinding and grunting away. They dawdle down the street in the morning, savoring each noisy moment like a red velvet cupcake. They (probably) abhor picking up our city-folk trash and drag out the process, like have all the time in the world.

At least that’s what it feels like to my narcoleptic, delirious, wishing-for-more-sleep mind at 5:00 every morning.

I’m awake and dreading before the truck even makes its bombastic way down the street. I sense it, I feel it in my bones, like some people feel a storm coming. Then there it is. The squeaky starts and stalls, the boisterous air brakes, the smashing of glass (can’t they be careful with recycling??), the pulverizing jaws of the compactors, the noise, noise, noise!

Once per morning, fine. I understand the necessity of garbage removal. But then, THEN, a second truck comes by – you see, there’s one for recycling and one for regular ole refuse (yes, yes I did just figure that out last week...hence the blue vs. black trash bags).

I lay waiting with bated, ├╝ber-annoyed breath, yearning for sleep – but cannot slip back into dreamland until truck numero dos barrels down Sullivan. And even then it’s a crapshoot. Couldn’t they at least do both at once? In the name of sanity? Ugh.

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