Monday, January 9, 2017

I Can’t Believe It

They are here! They really came today!
First, the back-story.
Friday it snowed in this hamlet I call home. Everyone knew it was coming due to our advance telecommunication systems and accurate forecasting. Shelves were cleared and long lines at the Tummy Temple secured stockpiles of munchies and libations to get us through the weekend. “Bring it on!” was the party cry as everyone settled back to watch the winter wonderland.
The next morning a few hearty ones were shoveling off their walkways and auto’s windshields. A few kids tried to sled but it was too cold. Even wrapped in sweaters Fido didn’t want to wander far to do his business.
Knowing full well that two-wheels do not travel well in even a powdering much less the ice expected, I made several trips loading dozens of silver bullets for a four day hunker down weekend.
Luckily there was football on. Unluckily it was on the only television plugged in ‘Mansland’ outside. The little heater tried but after a few hours my fingers and toes started getting cold. Music also kept me entertained, as I stayed hydrated.
By Sunday everyone seemed rescinded to stay inside and warm and post nonsense on social media. Refrigerators and cupboards were emptied of comfort food and the blue glow of big screens hypnotized the masses.
Knowing there was another important game on (not the ones with the guys in shorts running up and down a wooden floor bouncing a ball) so I put on several layers, strapped on my boots and trudged out to a cold dark room. Even the woodland creatures have decided to stay home. The beer (kept outside) was refreshingly cold, so wrapped in a lap blanket and a puffy vest, music blaring, I watched men in different uniforms run up and down a frozen turf throwing a ball and knocking each other down.
Being that it was the day before trash day, I took a break from the action on the screen to roll the heavy super cans full of sawed up lumber and yard scrapes into a pickup area. I didn’t expect them to be emptied tomorrow but just in case, I was prepared.
An old retired man can find little pleasures in life. One of mine has been having the trashcans emptied so I can fill them up again. It happens every Monday at 9AM. I could set my clock to the sound of that massive truck rolling and stopping and rolling down the alley.
The routine has become a weekly task for several years. Fill four trashcans beaming with every type of item under the sun and hope that Monday they will haul it away. Unlike many other projects of moving an item from place to place and then back again, throwing items away does permanently ends your connection with it. At times I’ve had so much trash that I filled up the entire truck. Other times I’ve gotten complaints from the city that my trash was too heavy.
Trash Man, Waste Management Worker, Garbage Collector, Refuse Worker, Sanitation Worker or any other title for these men (and women?) who dutifully remove our unwanted items and deliver them somewhere far away beyond our sight and smell. These guys are my heroes.
Garbage men deal with things that the rest of society wants to forget. Vulgar smells and indescribable oozes constantly assault waste management workers. Besides the odors, trash collection is ripe with other hazards – used needles, broken glass, dead animals, blinding dusts, angry customers, illegal dumps, hazardous materials, vicious dogs, backed up traffic, or trashcans full of maggots. It’s a thankless job.
We’ve all seen those awful pictures of narrow streets piled high with leaking trash bags when these workers have to go on strike to get attention. It doesn’t take long for a nice neighborhood to turn into a dump when our discards are not discarded.
In the blazing heat of summer to the rainy sopping mornings, these guys are there every Monday. As Mike Rowe would say, “Somebody’s Gotta Do It” and these under appreciated folks do the task most would find repulsive.
With the entire city basically shutdown due to the cold and the ice or just because it is Monday, I didn’t expect them to show up, but then I heard it. That truck, the size of a tank rumbling down the alley. I checked the temperature at 12 degrees. While everything else in the city couldn’t move, here were the refuse collectors removing my lumber and anything else I could recycle and moving onto the next house. A ballet of stutter steps with a hand signal or a yell, they perform a crucial necessity that most of us ignore.
Like many others that go overlooked, I try to appreciate the police, firemen, power workers, hospital personnel, even radio announcers for they all have to be at work when all the rest of us are cuddled up warm at home. These folks don’t have a snow day for they are essential to our comfortable existence.
Thank you guys for showing up today and I appreciate your effort. Hope you enjoyed the 12-pack I left you.

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