The Garbage Man Cometh

On the Main Line, even the trash collectors think they're better than everybody else

UPDATE: See Kelly Rowell’s new post on the reaction to “The Garbage Man Cometh”

I live in a nice area on the Main Line. Our township has all the perks, and we’re a bit spoiled around here. But maybe not quite as spoiled as our local garbage men. It seems as though our garbage collectors might be elitist. Please don’t think I don’t appreciate the job that garbage collectors have. I totally respect these people and would never want their job. I just feel that I may have stumbled upon a rare breed of garbage men that consider themselves a bit above the rest. [SIGNUP]

About a year ago I was walking my dogs when I noted that our garbage men have a method of collection I hadn’t seen in other places. One man walks way ahead of the truck and collects some of the garbage in his own rolling receptacle and then waits for the truck to catch up. As I passed the man, I said a pleasant hello. I also happened to be carrying a clear plastic bag of dog…waste. I always reuse my newspaper sleeves for this purpose to be kinder to the environment, by the way. Anyway, because it was garbage day and they were on their way to collect, I dropped my waste into my neighbor’s full trash bin, which was at the curb. I was not sure if the waiting garbage man saw me do this, but I didn’t think it was a punishable crime in any event.

Later that day I was backing out of my driveway when something caught the corner of my eye. It was a small clear plastic bag of dog waste sitting in the middle of my neighbor’s driveway. I couldn’t believe it. My neighbor doesn’t own a dog, either. I jumped out of my car and quickly retrieved it. The garbage truck was half a block away when I put it there that morning, so the only person who could have removed it was the garbage man. Do they not take dog waste, or was I being punished for trespassing in someone else’s bin?

It must be the former, because I have since found bags of dog waste sitting on the ground next to my empty trash bin. I’m not sure what the message is supposed to be. Don’t pick up after your dog? We’re too good for dog waste? Make sure you hide it in the dog waste in the trash better than this?

I thought I was alone in my garbage woes, when a friend of mine started telling me over lunch one day that her garbage man goes through her garbage. “He leaves a pile of things behind that he considers recyclable. He even left me a note on top of it.” I love this! We have wealthy-suburb elitist garbage collectors. They are very picky about what they’ll soil their hands with. And apparently they’re friends of the environment as well.

It gets better. That same friend, the one with the curbside pile of apparently recyclable refuse-rejects, was asked on a date by her garbage man. Okay, maybe I sound like a snob, but I have to draw the line somewhere. This woman has two small children that the garbage collector sees her walk to the school bus each week on garbage day. My friend lives in a beautiful house and wears a significant amount of carats on her left hand. There is no way in hell that garbage man thought she was single and available. Or that he is even remotely capable of supporting her in the lifestyle to which she’s accustomed. Not on a civil servant salary, anyway. What was he thinking? Nothing like a guy in uniform?

I’d love to know, did he really think she was going to leave her cushy lifestyle and run off with her garbage man? I know our township is nice, but seriously, do our garbage men think that highly of themselves? Will she find him lounging by her pool one of these days?

I’m delighted that our township treats their employees well, and that our garbage collectors enjoy high self-esteem. We have great service and I have nothing to complain about. Except one thing, perhaps. Hey Lower Merion, what am I supposed to do with this bag of dog s***?

KELLY ROWELL lives in Bryn Mawr.