One of the real joys of retirement is being able to wake up each morning naturally (or in my case by nature calling) without a screaming alarm clock jarring us into consciousness.
Every morning except Monday, that is.
Monday is the main garbage collection day and apparently everyone in our part of town subscribes to a different trash hauling company because they begin rumbling through the neighborhood at sunrise and don’t finish until noon. As many as 10 different haulers using trucks that are long overdue for a muffler job, roar in and out of driveways..then choose my intersection to stop and rev the engine to 5000 rpm’s so there’s enough power to operate the compactor and squish their loads to make room for more. It’s especially bad on recycle day when the sound of beverage cans being dumped into big metal bins can be heard for miles.
I got to wondering just how many garbage haulers there are in and around town and, to my amazement, discovered there are over forty.
When Waste Management came to Sioux Falls a few years ago, many were concerned it would undercut the independent haulers and put them out of business.Maybe I’ve seen too many episodes of “The Sopranos” but I figured that some big flat-nosed guy named Tony from Joisey would come here and intimidate all the smaller garbage guys into folding up or selling out.
Obviously that hasn’t happened.
Back in the olden days, I was a garbage hauler myself and loved it.
Actually my little hometown didn’t have a garbage service so when the trash at home piled up and needed removal, mom would have me load up the trunk of our 1953 Mercury and let ME drive it to the dump a mile west of town. This was long before I had a driver’s license..but after making a few trips with me, she let me go it alone.
I never told her..but sometimes I’d pick up my friend, Dixon Hoberg, to ride along.
Mom might have been too trusting because at least twice along that mile stretch of gravel, I became distracted and drove right down into the ditch. Fortunately, the car was never damaged and I was always able to drive out again..but I’ll tell you, making those garbage runs was a big deal to a 14 year old kid.
Dump runs weren’t usually necessary because my folks, like every other family in town, had a rusty 50 gallon barrel by the alley which was our incinerator. Light a fire with the Sunday paper and toss everything..including tin cans..into the flames. Great billows of black smoke from cereal boxes, chicken bones and potato peelings would fill the air. Eventually that barrel would collapse from one too many aerosol can explosions and it would be time to head to the Volga Co-op to negotiate for another one.
I suppose the environment is cleaner since backyard burn barrels and leaf burning were banned..but I still have fond memories of both.
Something to think about on those mornings when you’ve been startled awake by noisy garbage trucks banging away out the front door.
But, while Linda and I usually can’t wait for those loud contraptions to exit our neighborhood, our two year old great grandson, Jack, is absolutely infatuated with all things garbage….especially those loud trucks. He loves everything about them from the cans to the haulers. So much so, that he received three toy garbage trucks for Christmas and has nearly worn them all out. An ideal outing for this boy would be a visit to the landfill at Ellis where he could giggle with joy all day long. At first we figured this was unique to Jack..but it turns out there are lots of other little kids equally enamored by all things garbage. Lots of examples on YouTube.
Jack’s mom and dad say the one guaranteed way to keep him quiet and happy on the long boring trips from Colorado to South Dakota is to let him watch garbage truck videos over and over on a computer in the back seat. Will he eventually outgrow this fixation? Who can say? If it doesn’t fade away, I just hope when he gets older, he’ll be the one to invent quieter trucks. (Here’s Jack last Christmas with two of the three garbage trucks he found under the tree.)