In defense of ADSI trash service

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, January 24, 2024

At their January 2nd meeting our Board of Supervisors loudly lamented the shortcomings of our local trash-collecting service. A sampling of comments from that meeting appeared the following day in the Daily Leader: “A bunch of trash should have been picked up. But cans were left full – and in some cases overflowing – throughout the city.”  And  “We’ve been tearing those people up all week.” I guess civility and understanding didn’t make the cut on these guys’ New Year’s resolutions.

It’s about time someone spoke up for our beleaguered, hard-working sanitation workers.

As a former bottled water route deliveryman and retired FedEx courier, I can attest to the difficulties ADSI’s workforce encounters, even at the best of times. Trucks break down, employees get sick or take vacations, leaving the company temporarily short-handed, high turnover due to the inherent dangers and less-than-ideal working conditions. How much harder they must have to work during the holiday season! The weather certainly doesn’t cooperate, trash cans indeed overflow with Christmas present boxes and other trappings, making each stop just a little bit longer, sometimes residents fail to wheel their receptacles to the road on time, nor is there a lot of daylight in December and January. Take it from me: once routemen fall behind in their schedule, it takes a while to catch up. Theirs isn’t office work where they can stay late (and warm and maybe earn overtime) to make up for lost productivity.

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We citizens go to some length to make firemen’s and policemen’s job easier, don’t we? We install sprinklers and smoke detectors in our homes; we form Neighborhood Watch groups and relay information to the police to help them solve crimes. I believe that trash collectors also fit into the category of essential workers, and we should endeavor to help them any way we can.  Some suggestions:

1) Make sure your cans are covered. Wet garbage is not pleasant.

2) If you have more trash than usual, bag up the excess in sturdy plastic bags. Failing that, try saving the surplus until the following week if possible. This is especially helpful at Christmastime.

3) Compost your organic matter. These guys work hard enough without subjecting themselves to the remains of your Aunt Maggie’s Famous Broccoli Casserole.

4) Keep your dogs away from your and your neighbor’s trash receptacles. ADSI isn’t obligated to pick up your litter, though I have seen them do it, God bless ‘em.

5) Above all, try to understand how hard your ADSI crew works and practice some Christian tolerance towards them, especially during this season. They deserve at least that, and if not our outright praise, at least our respect. But they do not deserve our scorn.

Off the top of my head, I can think of many occupations that, were they to disappear entirely or

at least have their ranks seriously thinned, civilization would still manage to survive: extras in TV shows and commercials, middle-level corporate managers, purveyors of junk food, insurance salesmen, and maybe even some local government officials. But without firemen, policemen — and sanitation workers — what a mess we’d be in!

Eric Kaplan, Brookhaven