April 26, 2010 by Marj Hatzell
We have one trash pickup a week on Mondays. Until we started our new recycling program (no more dropping my plastic off in the neighboring town in stealth mode! WOO!) we had two pickups a week, Monday and Thursday. So two nights a week, Sunday and Wednesday, the trash pickers were out.
In our town you must have a permit to do everything. Breathe, even. Not really, but it sure feels like it. You aren’t allowed to have a “home business” though plenty of people work out of their home. Our landscaper, for example, is currently being targeted for having a home business because he brought a trailer home with some lawn equipment and parked it ON HIS OWN PROPERTY. Imagine that! Anyways, we don’t get the ole ice cream trucks here because they must have a permit (and the borough will not permit it). If you want to build a deck or porch? Permit. Pour a new driveway? Permit. Do any construction to your house requiring a contractor? PERMIT. Luckily, home improvements don’t count. Yet.
So yes, even trash pickers have to have a permit. Apparently a little while back people got antsy about people going through their trash. They were worried someone would end up with personal information. Never mind the fact that they sell these twenty-dollar devices called SHREDDERS for that very reason. And a local politician holds shredding events. For free. To encourage folks NOT to ever through out anything that has any sort of personal info. So Permits. To pick things out of trash. And I’ll admit, I’m a trash picker. At least, I used to be. People throw out some strange sh*t, that’s for sure. And if it is an expensive kids’ item, like outdoor play equipment or bikes or something I’m totally taking it. So there.
We’ve had one trash pickup a week since October. Every night (unless there is a deluge, like yesterday) we take the puppies and kids for a walk and see trash pickers. When it gets dark, the trash pickers are out in full force, driving up and down the streets, racing one another to the next house to see who gets that precious scrap metal or that precious aluminum or that precious ______. You know what they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Literally. I’m sure these folks make some decent money doing it. And I’m sad to say, I know one of the guys who does it because I used to work with him. He’s been out of work and on disability for a horrifying accident he shouldn’t survive. Guess how he buys food (because we all know disability doesn’t even cover the minimum standard of care)? Scrap metal. So we make sure we hold stuff until we see him driving and flag him down and tell him we’ve got it and to come and git it.
I feel sorry for them, sometimes. Some of these guys drive around in their work trucks. There’s money to be had and they’re gonna have it, apparently. This may be why our neighboring town has the trash men put their stuff out at the curb FOR THEM, so folks don’t go through their trash. Really, they hired a company who sends a guy a block ahead of time, pulls the cans out to the curb, the garbage truck passes and then another guy walks behind, putting cans BACK. It’s unreal. So no trash picking there, unless you stalk guy #1 and then push him down and grab the scraps and RUN AWAY. He might not like it and chase you, though.
As I relate this, I hear the dogs barking at the trash men outside, taking away our dog poo and scraps and broken stuff that can’t be recycled. I wonder how much they make, these Sanitation Engineers. These Refuse Specialists. I hope it’s good because MAN IT STINKS.