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, November 09, 2004

On pondering imponderables

Okay, I have some questions, comments and snide remarks to make, and they all have to do with my job.

1. What is it about VERY LARGE TRUCKS that makes you drivers in crunchy four-wheeled vehicles become stupid? I am getting sick and tired of little squishy four-wheelers darting around me in no passing zones, just to get to a stop sign 1/2 second before me...all the while ignoring the fact that they took away 2 seconds of my 5 second stopping time. If you ever hear a truck driver say he was standing on his brakes, he means it LITERALLY! Let me tell you, the absolutely, positively LAST place you EVER want to be in the WORLD is in front of a 50,000+lb. vehicle while it is trying to stop...especially if you are in a wet-cardboard-box-with-wheels called a "car". When my truck is loaded, it will run over your car like it was a speed bump...with about the same ride for me. Trust me. I will barely even notice your Suburban under my tires. If numbers help you understand this, "your" SUV will weigh anywheres between 1,500 and 5,000lbs. My truck, when empty, weighs a hair under 40,000lbs. (39,120, if you want to be near-exact) Which one of us is going to win in a collision?

2. For those of you who recycle, here is a list of things that I have pulled out of recycle bins that are NOT recylable:

a. Pumpkins. For that matter, NO edible materials are recyclable...unless given to a food-bank. And a garbage truck is NOT a food bank.
b. Shoes. They are recyclable...if you take them to a cobbler, or to GoodWill, or some other charitable organisation. Garbage trucks are NOT charitable organisations.
c. Drywall. Just because it has paper on the outside, doesn't mean it's recyclable.
d. Lumber, especially treated lumber and plywood. Just because paper was wood at one time doesn't mean that wood is recyclable.
e. Grass and leaves. Similar to (a), but non-edible.
f. Pizza boxes. Okay, the cardboard in a pizza box IS recyclable, but the grease and cheese stuck to the box is NOT.
g. Anything inflatable. Things that need air to be full size are not made of plastic. At the very best, they are made of vinyl, which, while a plastic, is not a recyclable plastic.
h. Clothes. Again, recyclable, but not by a garbage truck.
i. Shingles. I can't even begin to fathom why anyone thinks that a slice of roadway is recyclable.
j. Microwave ovens. Not only are they not recyclable, they aren't even trash. They are appliances. For some reason, landfills have issues with people dumping radioactive materials at their sites.
k. Light bulbs, flourescent AND incandescent. While the glass is recylable, the powders applied to the inside of the bulbs are not.
l. Kitty litter, new OR used. I don't know where someone got that idea from, but about .1% of the people who own cats seem to think that.
m. Pottery. Glass, yes. Clay, no. Just because it shatters when dropped does not mean it is glass.
n. Porcelain. See (m). (Porcelain and clay are different things...)
o. Tires. Similar to (j), but, this time, it's "stuff that has a half-life longer than most radioactive materials" Vulcanized rubber just isn't all that bio-degradeable.
p. Batteries. Just because something is metal on the outside does NOT mean it is metal on the inside.
q. Coffee makers. similar to (p), but "plastic" instead of "metal".

3. What on EARTH possesses people to put styrofoam packing peanuts in their trashcans with no bags?! That trash can is going to go upside down while it is being dumped into a hopper, after which said hopper is going to go 25ft in the air...and then turn upside down. If there is a 5mph wind that day, it will be raining packing peanuts for the next 5 minutes, and there isn't anything the driver can do about it. If the driver is in an especially vile mood, he will dump that hopper right next to YOUR yard, and do it sloppily, just so you can come home and find your lawn looking like a fine January morning. The driver who taught me that calls it "Giving them their peanuts back."

And while we are on the topic of ways to mess up your lawn whilst your garbage man is dumping his hopper, why do people think that they don't need garbage bags just because they have a garbage can?! The people who do that usually have VERY nice houses, and also have about 4 cans of garbage out. You would think they would spring for the garbage bags, just to keep their well-maintained lawn from looking like a landfill on a windy day. If you put loose garbage in your garbage cans, on a windy day, you will get much of your loose garbage back...all over your lawn. And the driver isn't going to spend more than 30 seconds cleaning it up. He's a garbage man, not a janitor. Bag that garbage, even if it is going in a can.

4. Don't try and bribe your garbage man into lifting your 150lb. can. You can't offer him enough money to make it worth his while, should he hurt his back lifting the remnants of your garage into his truck. If he gets hurt, he WILL NOT be able to collect Workman's Compensation, because his company has rules against picking up anything that weighs more than 50lbs. Your $5 bill won't pay for the lost wages. In fact, it won't even pay for the lost wages he will suffer in the next 1/2 hour...my training wage is almost three times that an hour.

5. Polite people consider it rude to put out, oh, 5 times the allowable amount of garbage, and then call and complain that the driver only took twice the allowable amount of garbage. The reason there is a limit on how much garbage people can put out is that each community has a contract stipulating how much trash per household it wants to pay for to be removed. The contractor company has no say in the limit. It only has a say in how much each bag or can may weigh.

6. City garbage men have it easy. They WILL NOT pick up anything that isn't per rules. Since I work for a contractor company, I'm not supposed to, but I kinda have to, to keep complaints down to a minimum, so my company can get the contract the next negotiation period. If you think you don't have to follow the local city's rules on garbage pickup (<35gal. containers, <50lbs., detachable lids) just because you don't live in that city, you are wrong, and making your garbage man work harder than he really is supposed to. You probably have a contractor company, and they'll put up with your rule-breaking, just so they don't lose the contract next time.

7. What in the world possesses people to put their trash out A DAY LATE, and then call and complain that the garbage man didn't pick it up?! I was finishing the previous day's route one morning, and had just finished a stretch of road and was turning around, when I noticed a pile of garbage that wasn't there ten minutes ago. I went back and picked it up, and checked the bags to see if they were cold. If they were cold, I was ready to take the blame for overlooking the trash. But, just as I suspected, the bags were still warm...in fact, they were radiating heat. Sure enough, I got a call on the radio an hour later, saying that I had missed them. I informed my dispatcher that I had picked up their trash THAT MORNING, after they had put out behind me. I was aided in my case by the fact that I had radiod in their perfidy when I took care of it...at my company, do that to your garbage man enough times, and we won't pick your trash up anymore until you can get it out on time. Which is usually 6:30AM or 7:00AM, depending on the community's rules.

Okay, that's all for now. These are the things that have been bothering me the most about slingin' trash. Truth be told, being a garbage man isn't all that bad, other than having to deal with people whose only goal in life is to put their trash out.

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