The truck rumbled down the street early in the morning...too early Looking out the window from my second floor, I watched in amazement as a young man (I stress young) climbed on and off the truck…grabbing with his gloved hand the rolling garbage can; swinging it up on to the automatic dumping gizmo; whirling it back into the yard and climbing back on the truck running board.
Just that combination of maneuvers made me tired…and I had just climbed out of bed! Multiply this action by all the houses in the neighborhood times the hours in a workday…and I think this may be one of the most under-rated jobs known to man. I certainly would not want to jump on a truck 8 hours a day or more…not to mention, in any kind of weather.
I started off this writing by calling these heroes of the Solid Waste Operations as “garbage men”. They are certainly much more! They are athletes, organizers, risk takers, and “professionals”. Why do I say, “professionals”? I am certain that many of these men stay on this job for years. Maybe after the knees grow weary, they graduate to driving the truck or into management. Nevertheless, just driving the truck takes a cool head. I ask myself a question or two:
- How many of those drivers have driven on, leaving the other guy left behind…or dangling from the side of the truck?
- How many times did broken bottle slice right through their gloves?
- Did one of those chasing dogs ever take a hunk out of their legs?
Yes, they are risk takers….and because of them we have a clean neighborhood. Take a look at the website of your Solid Waste Operations. It may read something like this:
“Residents in unincorporated _____ County have both Residential Curbside Collection of household garbage and recycling and Drop-off service available to them. All residents in the unincorporated area must pay the County solid waste collection and disposal fee on their tax bill.” What? We are paying taxes for this service! Of course, did you not know? Nothing comes free…and are we glad that it is a service that wakes us up in the morning and that the garbage and trash does not pile up on the side of the lawn.
I had a house guest from Mongolia come visit me. She had been my student there. I could have taken her to Disney World, but she told me that she was on a committee back home to help clean up the city. So, off we went to the land-fill. She took pictures and was impressed with all that happens there after the trucks bring back the trash. We were given a personal, guided tour and she saw the recycling of paper, paint, bottles, and plastics. The managers of the land-fill, who were very accommodating, did not regularly get visitors from Mongolia.
This collection service comes with rules. We must all abide by the rules. For instance, there are the following rules:
The DO NOT RULES:
Residential Collection Does NOT Include:
- Motor oil
- Lead-acid batteries
- Household Hazardous waste
The TO DO RULES:
- Household Garbage –- Solid waste must be enclosed in secure container (32 gallon or less) weighing no more than 50 pounds and placed within 3 feet of the curb or edge of the road no later than 6 a.m. on the designated pick-up day. NO construction or demolition debris such as fencing, floor tiles, etc., is allowed curbside.
- Yard Waste – Material must be bagged, bundled or placed in an easy to handle container and weigh no more than 50 pounds. Limbs and branches must be tied in bundles weighing no more than 50 pounds, be no longer than 4 feet in length with limbs no greater than 6 inches in diameter.
- Appliances and Furniture – Residents should call their designated hauler to schedule a pick-up. Appliances and furniture should be placed at the curb for pick-up by the hauler. Residents are encouraged to call charities for reuse of these items. etc etc.
(Maybe the neighbors called, as required, but I saw a very long sofa sitting on the lawn. I wondered if it would actually be taken. The men threw it into the truck. It gently slid toward the rear…and down came the compactor to give it a good crush! I was impressed! Maybe these burly men should be on a calendar…and I know a really good photographer!)
So what do we get for all this? My county puts it this way:
“It is estimated that each of the 240,000 residents in Lake County,(Florida, USA) throw away:
- An average 4.57 pounds of garbage a day, or nearly one ton per person per year!
- The remaining two-thirds of the trash Lake County generates is burned at the Covanta Energy facility, which reduces that tonnage by 75 percent with the remaining ash buried in the landfill. Burning waste in the pollution-controlled facility also generates, more than 114,000 megawatts of electricity per year.”
What might it look like without them?
Enough said. I think you get the point. I certainly would hate to do without this wonderful service. I don’t even mine the rules. If collection taxes have to go up anytime soon, we may want to say, “No problem! Bring on the noisy trucks and the athletic men..or Sanitation Engineers. We love them!”
I found a video that may mean if our country gets this high-tech, the man hanging on the back may be out of a job. Let’s hope not…for jobs are needed.