It’s 5am. Do you know where your garbage is?

Once again, the Bay Area got the worst of the storm. We are really starting to feel neglected up here.

Today was garbage day. Inbetween the thunder and lightning, I could hear the garbage trucks rumbling down the streets and alleys, and the crashing sounds of cans being upended over the gaping maw of the truck. I have long held a theory that garbage men are capable of making two cans sound like eight.

However, this morning I felt rather bad for them, as it was chilly and the rain was coming down sideways. I can’t imagine it was a very pleasant experience, even in slickers. I’m sure the garbage men end up soaked either way, and careless people who don’t put the lids on their cans properly probably add to the misery.

Garbage hauling seems like an odd profession to me. I mean, yes, strictly speaking, someone has to do it. I’ve heard the pay is usually decent, but the trade off is that you have long days. Long filthy days. And if it’s raining, you work in the pouring rain. If it’s snowing, you beat paths to the snow to get to the garbage cans. You don’t get days off for inclement weather because it would throw the entire garbage hauling system off. You lift heavy loads well up over your head to get them into the truck. I wonder how many garbage men end up with back and shoulder injuries. I hope that they have company insurance which allows them to get treatment.

A lot of garbage customers are extremely inconsiderate–they don’t tie their bags shut properly, they ignore the rules about what is not ok to put in garbage cans, they leave the lids on atilt so that when it’s windy and rainy they swoop off, filling the can with water. Garbage hauling seems like a distillation of everything that is evil in the service industry.

I wonder how many garbage customers think to leave gifts for their garbagemen, like you would for the postman? I wonder about this as I lie snug in my warm bed on Tuesday mornings, listening to the garbage men doggedly move their way down the street. I’m glad that someone is willing to take my garbage away, although the garbage industry terrifies me. I just wonder if I would think about my consumerism more if I was forced to deal with my garbage personally. I just wonder if a little bit of respect for those who deal with our filth might be in order.

Today is Fat Tuesday. Lent is almost upon us. This not being an overwhelmingly religious place, I doubt I will see many people wearing ashes tomorrow. I also doubt that many people will be undertaking a personal spiritual journey in honor of the Christ. But maybe I’m wrong. What are you forsaking for Lent?