As a former summer replacement garbageman who once worked four consecutive days without throwing up, I must protest the automatic thingie used these days to hoist rubbish containers.
If a modern-day garbage process-server comes across a receptacle that is too heavy, or too smelly, or too laden with dead rodents, he can affix it to a device on the back of the truck that catapults the stuff into the hopper.
He doesn’t touch the can.
He doesn’t have a personal relationship with the slop inside the can.
He simply activates the automatic thingie and hydraulics takes care of the rest.
No muss, no fuss, no peristalsis.
The guy doesn’t even wear gloves.
This does a tremendous disservice to those of us who came this way before.
Those of us who not only wore gloves, but scrubbed our hands in 20 Mule Team Borax so our fingers wouldn’t rot off.
I only hope the folks who handle rotted foodstuffs on today’s trash trucks have the good grace not to call themselves “garbagemen.”
That’s our word.
They are “automatic thingiemen.”
To be a garbageman is to lift.
Doesn’t matter if the can contains 99 percent cinderblocks with only a dollop of trash on top to satisfy the legal requirement.
Doesn’t matter if the can is filled with homemade pickles so foul that maggots took one taste and staged an emergency evacuation.
To be a garbageman is to learn to stand downwind.
Proper – and even improper society – does not want to mingle with persons who see the basic food groups at their absolute worst.
Automatic thingiemen can eat with the queen.
We dined around the grease rack.
To be a garbageman is to never – and I mean never – return the lid of a trash can to its rightful place.
That would violate the only rule of the job: Do not touch something nasty more than once.
The way we flung the tops, I wouldn’t be surprised if some ended up in outer space.
Orbiting trash can covers.
Courtesy of your handy-dandy garbagemen.
It is the proudest of legacies.
Editor’s Notes: Garret Mathews tells us: I’m retired from writing the metro column for the Evansville, Ind., Courier & Press. In a 39-year career, I penned more than 6,500 pieces on every subject from moonshiners to murderers. You can read some of my work by going to www.pluggerpublishing.com and clicking on the Favorites icon. For information on other projects, click on Coming Together and FolksAreTalking on the Plugger site.” Also, go to www.columnists-stillaround.com, and, for even MORE great articles from Garret, click here! Email Garret at firstname.lastname@example.org. He’d love to hear from you!