TRASH ALARM: waking to the sound of trash collectors

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It’s Tuesday.  I know that’s the case even before I open my eyes because at 7:00 a.m. I hear the first sounds that inform me.  No, not the alarm clock.  Not the birds that gather in the trees behind our house.   Not even the bells of the St. Pious X Church two blocks away.   All those sounds are daily and blend into the normality of early-morning concert that surrounds us.

No, I know it’s Tuesday because at 7:00 on Tuesday morning I hear the crashing of the trash cans that have been lifted by robotic arms, dumped into the idling truck, and then slammed down, back almost into place by those same robotic arms before the truck engine revs and moves on to the next house on the street below us.  I know it’s Tuesday because the trash alarm has sounded.  It’s only a matter of time (an hour or so) before the trucks will creep down our own street, leaving what was an orderly alignment of two barrels each,  neatly aligned with the curbing and now forming instead a random sight of barrels that look like they have been attending one of the “red cup” parties of the near-by college the night before.

Sometime on Monday I have pulled the trash barrels from our garage, placed them neatly at the end of our driveway, just away from the area needed to back out.   Later that same evening I will take the last bags out and put them in their respective barrels…trash and garbage.

Oh, those aren’t the names given to them by the City of Providence.  They are “recyclables” and “other trash.”   But I’ve decided that “trash” is a good word, a somewhat less offensive word, to apply to those items that will be recycled.   And “garbage” is a more unruly word which means everything else that can’t be recycled.  I have to remember that “trash” has to be loose in the barrel so it can be sorted at the recycling center…no tied bags, please.   But everything in the “garbage” container must be in a tightly secured plastic bag.   Cardboard must be flattened and tied securely and placed between them so the breeze or animals can’t knock it over and spread it all over the neighborhood.

Later today I’ll return the barrels to the garage, and by evening the pristine neighborhood will return to its usual state of picturesque condos in a little island in the middle of an urban setting.  Realtors will breathe a sigh of relief that prospective purchasers will once again observe what is a gem of location not far from their city-located jobs.

Now, if this sounds like a rant against trash alarms or trash removal, think again.  I’m actually one of those people who really appreciates the rhythm of trash collection by the City.   It is a gift to the residents of this city that trash collection is provided and is so efficient.   The trash alarm on Tuesday mornings is a reminder that we don’t have to arrange for a more costly  private removal of the tons and tons of garbage and trash that accumulate in a city of a quarter million people.

I’m thankful that there is a recycling plant and that much of what used to end up in a trash pile someplace away from here is being regenerated into such things as park benches for the beautiful parks in this state.  I’m thankful that some of the new industries that take the recycled materials and make something out of them are located nearby, providing jobs and tax income to the State.  Or, that it is being sold to manufacturers out of state.   We aren’t the only state that needs jobs and industry.

Granted, the melody of the trash alarm is somewhat jarring and less gentle than our alarm or the church bells.  But it’s a sound that makes waking up on Tuesday morning special.   I may be the only person in the city who welcomes the trash alarm, but, if so, I welcome that distinction.

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Photo Credit:  icgov.com

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