Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Trashure Island

Never in the field of garbage collection has one nation got its knickers in such a twist over the simple, if smelly, task of picking up its trash.
It seems that Britons are the world leaders in producing the stuff, which is not surprising when you visit a supermarket. Nothing, apparently, can be presented au naturel. It has to be shrink wrapped in some clear plastic and seated on a bed of rather less clear plastic, none of which is edible (this sometimes includes the contents) and thus has to be thrown away.
And the throwing away part is no easy matter, since those employed to cart it are highly skilled professionals. An overfilled bin is an insult to their craft as is one where the alignment of the wheelie on the pavement does not conform to the council’s specification.
The shock and horror that faced some sanitary operatives who returned to work after having been on strike for a week can only be imagined. There was a plethora of bins, up to their microchips and overflowing with the additional garbage that had accumulated.
Naturally, in the face of such moral turpitude on the part of the householder, they refused to empty them.
I spent a good many years in a country that was as close to Third World as I care to get. Not much worked in the area of public services with one notable exception.
Our trash was collected with impressive regularity each week – and moreover in any container that we liked to dump it in.
If our trash can was not outside the house on collection day, they would come into the yard to look for it. Mind you, there was a bit of a downside to this as it meant we had to chain down anything moveable lest it be mistakenly identified as trash in their eyes.
But we never had a problem with their collecting the stuff.
In Paris last week, as I was walking to catch the Metro, they were picking up the garbage. It was a sight that would bring tears to the eyes of any British Council Sanitary Worker (aka Dustmen)
For these Gallic traitors to their profession were picking up bins without testing to ensure that they could be moved with two fingers, throwing in bags that were clearly not of the specified colour and quality demanded by British councils and, horror upon horror, actually collecting stuff left out in all manner of cardboard boxes.
And some of the items were so heavy that any self respecting British operative would be able to claim his disability allowance just on the strength of it.
Clearly we have much to learn in Europe on the subject.


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