"Well, there is only one piece of advice I can give you," said the wisest of wise men. "The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon."

('The Alchemist' Paulo Coelho)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Shut your bin!

The old blood pressure has been somewhat raised this morning by this little gem on bin emptying which is in the news today. Our local council has long decreed that bins have to have their lids closed in order to be emptied. The binmen (sorry, refuse disposal operatives) also refuse to empty them if they are up to a centimetre away from where they think they should be placed outside one's house and they only empty the general rubbish bins fortnightly now instead of weekly. They also have this neat little trick of dumping the empty bin right in the middle of your drive, so that you can't drive in or out without having to move it first. We have green boxes for recyclable rubbish, but only certain types. You can put plastic bottles in there, but woe betide you if you sneak in any other plastic containers; the 'wrong kind of plastic' you see.
Already we are sorting the rubbish for them, dragging our bins out of the garden onto the pavement, with the threat of dire punishment if we do this on the wrong day, of course and having to harbour rubbish for two weeks instead of one, with the attendant hygiene issues. Now we are further limited by the amount of rubbish we can leave in the bin. So if the bin is overflowing, which can easily happen in the case of a large family, what are we supposed to do with the excess? If we were still in the days of rubbish bags having to be picked up and thrown onto the wagon, I would agree that the job was physically tiring and probably didn't do the back muscles much good, but now, all that is required is to line two bins up so that the wagon picks them up. I could do it with one hand tied behind my back; it's hardly dangerous. But it's a different matter for elderly and infirm people who have to struggle to pull a heavy bin down a path onto the pavement if they want it emptied. It obviously doesn't matter if they injure themselves. I am waiting with impatience to read of the first court action against a local council brought by a resident who has injured him/herself in the struggle to put the bin out.

This morning, not for the first time, I have had to drag my bin up the road to the wagon because some of the rubbish had been left in it, so they don't even check that they have been properly emptied. Today there was some polystyrene packaging which had been jammed down the side, so with my best, most charming smile (No, OK, I dispensed with that - I was annoyed!) I approached one of the men, dragging my bin behind me. It's quite a surreal experience round here, as our binmen are a bit like the traditional brass monkeys, but in their case, they are obviously recruited for their abilities to 'see nowt, hear nowt and say nowt.' What this means in practice is that I say, very politely,
"Excuse me, there is still some stuff in my bin."
Silence as he continues to load two other bins onto the wagon, apparently completely unaware of my presence. I hastily look down and check that I am fully dressed and have not suddenly become invisible. After a couple more minutes, he grabs the bin from me, without sparing me so much as a glance, loads the bin once more and, this time, empties it, before flinging it conptemptuously in my direction. I am overcome by a wild impulse to ask him which charm school he graduated from but if I do, assuming that he will actually register that I am speaking to him this time, he may refuse to empty my bin at all next time and I may be arrested and charged on the grounds of being intimidating towards a council employee.
Maybe next time, the solution would be not to be dressed if I have to chase the wagon with my bin. It would have to be a warmer day than today though!


Jay said...

Ha! I have often threatened to run naked into the street, though not, in fact, to accost bin men. Don't ask.

But a thought occurs, in this climate of equal opportunities for all. Possibly he didn't speak English?

Jennyta said...

Hi, Jay. You could be right, especially as there are a lot of Polish people around here but I can't believe that the whole crew don't speak english and a smile or acknowledgement costs nothing in any language.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Oh dear! That last image! My hard drive is going into overdrive - so much so that I have had to force myself to stop wiggling my mouse! These people you mention are meant to be giving the public a service. Fortunately our bin men in Sheffield are like all Yorkshiremen - hard-working and honest as the day is long - we never have any problem with them.

Jennyta said...

Try not to think about it, YP - it will give you nightmares! ;)

Silverback said...

Can't wait to see you on YouTube, Jenny.

Jennyta said...

You know what they say about hell freezing over, Ian. ;)

J.J said...

This 'wrong kind of plastic' is a right wind up isn't it? Plastic milk bottles - yes. Margarine cartoons - no.

Like your blog make over btw!

Rosie said...

I have always tried to recycle but find it more and more frustrating. If the bin or box is too full they won't take it. I have on a couple of occasions had to get in the car and go to the refuse site 'tip' rather than wait another two weeks before they return.

Jennyta said...

It is a wind-up, JJ. Rosie, they just don't like to make it easy for us, I reckon.


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