Random Firings of Neurons

The rest of your life is going to be spent getting back up after life has knocked you down again. You might as well just get used to it.

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Location: Round Rock, Texas, United States

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

On holiday Hell

Okay, I had Labor Day off, just like the rest of y'all. I was lazy and didn't post yesterday, and I also didn't have to work, just like y'all. But, hooo-boy, did I pay for that today. It seems the company I work for likes to cram five days of trash pickup into four days during holiday weeks. I have to say, it seems the only reasonable way to do it. But, that means that this poor ole' FNG had to do a lot of trash-slingin' today. 17 tons worth of trash-slingin'. We did two routes today, to try and free up drivers (and trucks) to cover other routes. While we actually got our two routes done today (with some help from another driver who also had two routes to cover, but his were a little easier), other drivers weren't so fortunate. So, it looks like this entire week is going to be spent trying to catch up from Monday. As if I didn't hate Labor Day enough as it is. I find it hard to understand why a day called "Labor Day" actually involves everyone NOT laboring. Of course, it IS a day celebrating unions, so I guess it makes a little more sense when you look at it that way. Having had to deal with unions in the past (never as a member), I am of the opinion that union workers are just a step above government employees for the amount of work they do. Unionized government employees probably get more sleep at work than they do at home. I probably do more work by 9AM than most union government employees do all week. But that is just my opinion, based on my experiences dealing with both union workers and government workers.

Okay, since I have your attention now, I would like to provide a little Public Service for all the under-appreciated garbage men out there. While I am by no means a seasoned professional in the wild and woolly world of trash pick-up, I have slung enough trash in the past few days to form some opinions as to how you, as the trash-generating public, can make the jobs of the garbage men a little easier, and also get off of their shi'ite list.

First, do NOT cram everything in your house into your trash bags. Most municipalities seem to have a 50lb. limit on trashbags. There is a good reason for this. Those trashbags will have to gain an altitude of at least 3ft. to get into the truck, and trashbags aren't exactly known for their athletic prowess. So, those trashbags will have to be assisted in their low-altitude endeavors by a garbage man. 50lbs. is a weight that I can throw. And I mean THROW! 75lbs. means I have to pick up the bag, and hammer-throw (two-handed throw) into the truck. 100lbs. means I have to actually pick up the bag, and carry it to the truck, and try and place it into the truck. 125lbs. is a whole lotta gruntin' and groanin' to get it into the truck, and there will be some pointed questions about parentage and sexual preferences asked along the way. 150lbs. will get into the truck, but I won't be happy about it, and I can assure you, I won't think too highly of the person who placed that bag out by the curb. 175lbs. just ain't happening. So, don't try and cram everything for the week into one bag. As a Betty Crocker Helpful Hint, try and pick up that bag to a height of 3ft. If your back, or arms, or shoulders feel like they are going to take a vacation on you, then that bag just might be a little too heavy. If you have to drag the bag to the curb, that is a sure sign that you put too much in the bag. Believe it or not, it takes less time for the garbage man to load 4 bags at 50lbs. than 2 bags at 100lbs.

Second, if you have a cat, and have to throw out 50lbs. of cat litter a week, YOU ARE USING TOO MUCH CAT LITTER! Most garbage men seem to hate cats with a passion, due to cat owners (or cat property, I can never remember which) dumping 50lbs. of litter into a trash bag, and then filling the bag up the rest of the way. If you want to know why this pisses us off, just read the first Helpful Hint. I'll give you a clue. If the kitty litter weighs 50lbs., you are already at the 50lbs. limit. Oh, and I am owned by two cats myself, so I can tell you that 50lbs. of litter a week is a touch too much. Actually, it's a lot too much.

Third, when loading your cans, the 50lbs. limit is right out the window. But, don't try and cram 4 50lbs. bags into the can, just to save a trip. 2 50lbs. bags will make that can plenty hard to get into the truck. You don't have to overkill it with more bags. Three 50lbs. bags in a can isn't a picnic to get into the truck, but it can be done. I won't be happy about it, but I will do it. So, please try and keep the weight of the can to a reasonable level. Again, a Helpful Hint is to try and pick that can up 3ft., and then turn it upside down. If you can't even get it off the ground, it could be a sign that the garbage man may not be able to, either. Also, limit the amount of loose trash, and unsealed bags in your cans. Those unsealed bags have a tendency to distribute their contents at random intervals while the vehicle is traveling down the road. Same goes for the loose trash. So, if you see trash flying out of a garbage truck, it is because some knucklehead decided to put unsecured trash into their cans. Another Point to Ponder is cramming stuff into the can. If it doesn't fall into the can on its own, it won't come out of the can on its own. Which can lead to some tiring gyrations by your garbage man to unload that can. While holding the can 3ft in the air (actually, I hold the can 5ft. in the air, but it isn't any harder to hold the can at 5ft. than 3ft.). Upside down. If that can is also overweight, like, say, in the 150lb. range, it can also lead to back, neck, and shoulder injuries to the driver. So, don't cram stuff into the can. If it won't fit in the can on its own, just put it next to the can at the curb.

Fourth, if you choose to follow your community's recycling program, please actually follow it. I would imagine that most municipalities have the same rules for recycling. Namely, plastic, glass, and aluminum can be in one container, together, while paper and cardboard should be bundled together, boxes broken down, no peice larger than 3ft.X 3ft., and not mixed in with the plastic, glass, and aluminum. Also, pizza boxes are NOT, repeat NOT, recyclable. Neither is pottery. The cardboard you used as a drop sheet when you changed your oil isn't either. If you decide to mix your paper with your co-mingle (plastic, glass, and aluminum) and it isn't there when you come home, let me assure you, it didn't get recycled. It went into the trash. Garbage men do NOT have the time to sort through your recyclables to place them in their proper containers. When we have to do between 300 and 600 stops in a day, each minute we spend at each stop having to sort the trash is going to increase the chances that we will have to pull ourselves off of the road, and not finish our route. Even 30 seconds more at each stop can cause us to have to stop working early. (We are bound by DOT regulations that limit our hours worked in a day to 14 hours, and weekly hours to 60) Also, what is the point of placing all your recyclables into a container for pickup, only to have those recyclables just thrown into the trash with all the other non-recyclable stuff?

If, by chance, y'all happen to have true curbside pickup, then most of these rules don't really apply to you. If you do have true curbside pickup, let me know, so I can think about moving to where you live, and pick up the trash there. True curbside pickup is great. Most times, the driver doesn't even have to leave the vehicle. He just extends some arms, picks up the trash, dumps it, and drives off, after placing the containers back where they started. But we can't have that here, due to the age of most of the streets in the towns around here. Oh, well.

Semper Fidelis: Always Faithful, to God, Corps and Country