Garbage in equals garbage out, but in San Diego, the Garbage Gestapo rules the garbage going out.
The City of San Diego Environmental Services collects garbage. Prompted by the name of that agency, ”environmental” in San Diego conjures up images of garbage trucks taking our refuse on certain days at uncertain times.
An important garbage rule is that bins must be out at the curb by 7 a.m. on garbage day for pick-up. When trash is actually picked up is anybody’s guess and sometimes does not occur until afternoon. Yet, dutifully, I schlepped my garbage bins to the street last night, in the dark, half asleep, in my nightie, hoping that some ne’er-do-well was not lurking in the bushes to accost me or rifle through my refuse.
Why the nighttime trip to the curb? Upon my retirement, I forevermore gave up the notion of getting up and out of the house by 7 a.m. for anybody or anything. Arising at that hour to put out the garbage was out of the question.
Another important garbage rule is that bins should not appear at the curb before sundown on the day before collection day, a requirement aimed especially at those people who like to do things early. While the notion of environmentally conscientious removal of unwanted refuse is appealing, the vision of bins lined up at the curb offends the neighbors. Sacrificing my own convenience for that all-important imperative of not offending — heaven forbid — I put off dragging the dirty bins in daylight and waited for the cover of dark.
I have my own rationale for putting the bins out at night. There are fewer insufferable people stuffing my bin with that last bag of trash that wouldn’t fit into theirs. The worst is when elite young ladies walking their chocolate labs think nothing of putting their plastic bags of wet pet poop in my bin. This practice, never mind the lingering smell, offends me. I convinced myself that such malignant activities occur less frequently at night when I can’t see the people doing their dastardly deeds.
But the new garbage rule that manifest itself this morning had to do with the deadline time for getting the bins to the curb. It was 6:45 a.m. when the trash truck came. How clever of me to roll my bins out last night! It was no more than 10 minutes later when over-sleeping neighbors rushed their bins to the curb, presumably with thoughts that they could still make the 7 a.m. pick-up.
Alas, it wasn’t so. The 7 a.m. pickup came and went at 6:45, with an agent of the City of San Diego Environmental Services Garbage Gestapo arriving mere minutes later to inspect the truant bins. He hung a bright neon orange tag on each of them, warning the garbage bins that they had done something wrong. The trash in them remained.
For the rest of the day, the bins stood as icons of environmental scorn for all to see, a badge of disrepute for the sleep-ins and a reminder of the power of public services in the city. For seven more days, the garbage will grace their garages waiting for on-time placement on the curb next week. Something says there will be no oversleeping on collection day.
The neon orange tag read, “We are sorry but your garbage was not picked up,” silently stating the obvious in a somewhat conciliatory construction. The next statement on the tag read, “YOUR GARBAGE MUST BE ON THE CURB BY 6 AM ON COLLECTION DAY.” If tags could talk, they would have been shouting and adding the threat, “or else we’re not picking up your frigging garbage” in a show of decidedly uncompromising intention.
The City of San Diego Environmental Services changed the rules when the populace least expected it, without advance notice to those who paid for the service they would not be getting that day. It would have been nice if the City paid a guy to pick up a few truant bins. Instead, they paid a guy to play police and affix truancy tags rather than pick up truant trash.
So, San Diego, watch out for the Garbage Gestapo, doing their bit in their own way to keep our city clean and green.