In ye’ olde New Testament times the city of Jerusalem had a garbage dump outside of its city walls. It was in a valley called Gehenna. It would often catch fire and burn for days or weeks and became, among the citizens of the town, synonymous with hell. In the 1400s Parisians, for lack of any other option, would haul garbage outside of the city and just dump it there. It piled up to such an extent that it actually interfered with efforts to defend the city. Huge piles of half eaten croissants provide excellent cover for invaders. Supposedly, 150 years ago sailors coming into New York could smell the city from six miles out.
I mention all of this to show that the problem of what to do with the massive amounts of trash that human beings produce has always been an issue. I am proud to say that the company that provides the garbage service in my neighborhood has solved this problem.
In my old neighborhood, garbage collection was provided by the city and paid for by my taxes. It wasn’t bad. They came once a week. They would take whatever you could cram into one of those big, green rolling plastic garbage bins. But that was it. For the most part, anything outside the bin would be ignored. They simply weren’t allowed to pick it up. Getting them to take yard waste was a real chore. You had to have sticks cut to a certain length and tied up. Leaves had to be in a certain type of bag. Figuring out the regulations was like working alchemy. Twice a year they had “junk pick up day” where you could leave pretty much anything you wanted out on in the alley and they would take it. If you missed the “junk pick up day” you were screwed for another six months.
In the new neighborhood, every day is junk pick up day.
We get our garbage collected twice a week and, as far as I can tell, they will take absolutely anything. It’s actually a little crazy. People put entire busted up living room suites. Boxes and broken pieces of detritus get stacked higher than the standard green bin they provide. Smashed television get stacked like in an 80s music video. Bags are piled willy-nilly. Mattresses look a little crime scene-ish leaned up against the bins. We have on several occasions put entire wood pallets out on the curb. A month ago I left out a second trash can full of dirt.
It all disappears.
Every Tuesday and Friday for about five hours our nice little neighborhood looks like a third world slum, as people put all manner of crap out for pickup. I am legitimately embarrassed to have people come down on street on trash mornings because it looks so bad.
I sometimes wonder where it comes from, if people on our square go to other neighborhoods, steal their garbage and put it out in some weird experiment to see if our garbage men have a breaking point, a level where they just say “enough of this shit is enough, I am not getting rid of a refrigerator with no door filled with empty tide bottles” and refuse to dispose of something.
Our garbage men do not break. They are sanitation engineering supermen. It’s pretty amazing.
At the beginning of the summer I threw out a garbage bin. It’s actually hard to throw out a full sized, plastic garbage can because…well…it’s a garbage can. It’s not the thing you throw out; it’s the thing you throw stuff out in.
“Put a note on it,” said C.
So I did.
“Please take this can with you,” said my note. “The whole can, the actual garbage can. It is our garbage.”
I was going to draw a picture of the garbage can with the caption, “This is not a garbage can” but C convinced me that would be funny, but sort of douchey.
It was gone by 3pm.
HOUSEKEEPING: Speaking of trash on a regular basis, I have been convinced by C to be more regular with my blogging. Right now we are going for three times a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Expect less insightful, interesting, shorter pieces but…you know…more of them.
Also, I’ve noticed that wordpress has started putting adds on the pages. That’s fine, its their space, but I’m going to be looking to migrate to my own server in the next month or so. Hopefully I can do it in such a way that nobody notices. But I doubt that.