Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Trash talkin’

trash day

It was a glorious clear 60º when I wheeled our trash container to the street this morning where it and its brothers will stand silently as they await the packer truck.

I spent a good part of the summer of 1962 riding on the back of a similar packer truck, picking up trash in Delphi, Ind. It was a rather pleasant job and you got to learn a lot about your neighbors from what they put into the trash. In particular, you learn where all of the town’s alcoholics live based on the empty booze containers in their trash.

In those days, most people in Delphi put their trash into 55-gallon steel barrels along the alley behind their home. Many people burned their trash in the barrels, so there was always the possibility of hot embers starting a fire in the enclosed bed of the packer truck, necessitating a quick trip to the city dump to disgorge the burning cargo.

The prospect of getting the contents of a full 55-gallon barrel into the maw of the packer truck seemed daunting at first, but I quickly learned to tip the barrel and roll it on its base rather than carry it to the truck. Once there, the trick was to lift it from the bottom, then roll it from side to side to dump the contents into the hopper. Leather work gloves were a necessity.

I was just summer help, working with a couple of guys who were the city’s fulltime water utility and sanitation crew. I don’t remember their names, but one of the guys had the curious quirk of pronouncing “truck” as “cruck.”

And I particularly enjoyed the mid-morning breaks at a little café called the Delphinium where I always got coffee and two chocolate-iced cake donuts.