Dear Streets Department: Please Pick Up the Freaking Trash

The next time I have to hold my garbage for more than a week, I'm just going to drop it off on the commissioner's curb.


This is my trash. It is sitting on my curb in Philadelphia. It has been sitting there since 6:45 a.m. on Monday morning, when I got  out of bed, slid on some sneakers, and walked it, bleary-eyed, to my curb.

I didn’t want to miss the trash truck, since the Streets Department didn’t bother to pick up my trash last Monday.

You see, Philadelphia got a little bit of snow last Sunday night into Monday morning, and so the Streets Department told everyone who would normally have their trash picked up on Monday that they would have to hold their stinking refuse for an entire week, meaning until yesterday.

Except the trash truck never came by on Monday.

The same thing happened to me in mid-February and the same thing has been happening to friends and colleagues all over the city. Emaleigh Doley of Rockland Street in Germantown says that her block went without trash pickup for more than 16 days during one snowy February stretch. And in early January, the Streets Department cancelled trash pickup simply because it was too cold.

The job of a sanitation worker — sorry, “sanitation specialist” — in the Streets Department is really pretty simple. You pick up my trash and take it somewhere else, and you do it on a certain day. And if you can’t do it on that day, you should have a really good reason for not doing so, and you should make your best effort to rectify the problem in a timely manner. For this, you earn somewhere between $38,657 and $49,703 each year, plus cushy union benefits to boot. And your boss, Streets Commissioner David Perri, earns $140,000.

Well, enough is enough. Oh, I know that it’s been a rough winter for everybody and that budgets are tight, but for a city with the second-highest tax burden of all major cities in the country, we should expect better. “[Our] citizens want and require a certain level of service here in the city, and we have to pay for that,” says Mayor Nutter. Well, we are paying for it, but we’re most decidedly not getting it. Point is, pick up the freaking trash.

The next time that the Streets Department fails to pick up my trash on Monday as scheduled and then sticks me with it for more than a week, I’m going to get in my car and drive my trash to the curb of Perri’s charming $415,000 home in Rhawnhurst. His trash day isn’t until Thursday, so it will sit there for a few days, just like the trash sits on the curbs of regular Philadelphians who don’t get paid $140,000 of Philadelphia taxpayers money to not do their jobs.

I’m sure this trash-relocation scheme is illegal, which is fine. I’m willing to accept the consequences. And any other Philadelphians who want in with me, just let me know. I’ll rent a truck.

Follow @VictorFiorillo on Twitter.