Thursday, February 05, 2009

Reflections on [not-always] Solid Waste

One of my regular "reads" is William M. (Matt) Briggs' interesting site [His MOTTO: "All manner of statistical analyses cheerfully undertaken"] wherein the author frequently expounds on a statistician's life's work and its associated travails. Lately Matt is sounding somewhat introspective and bored, as per this post on a study comparing satisfaction factors of 200 careers. Close to the bottom of the list were "garbage collectors". Said Matt:
For the last eleven years I have seen the same two guys drive their garbage truck down my street. They are always chatting and appear happy. They are outside and not hunched in front of a computer. There’s very little stress. They get good pay and benefits and first dibs at any choice garbage1. They don’t need to shell out cash for a gym membership to “exercise”, which is better defined as work that you pay for. In every parade I’ve ever been to, it’s the garbage men following after the horses that get the biggest applause.
His comment re: one of my cherished former occupations could not in all good consciousness remain unanswered, thus the following 49er Fiction and Fact tidbits:

  • The most rewarding time of the year for G-men vis-a-vis choice of food scraps is the week after Thanksgiving. Turkey is king!
  • On average it takes a retired G-man 20 years to sort through and dispose of the "usable" trash hauled home during a 10 year collection career. When all is said and done he will actually be able to use less than 2% of the stuff.
  • A hauling company will cut 25% off their labor budget if they require drivers dump loads at local transfer stations rather than outlying landfills. Locally there's much less opportunity for drivers to be distracted wasting time looking through "good stuff" others have dumped.
  • Usual question from a new customer: "Do you deliver in River City"? Usual answer: "Sure. How many truck loads do you want"?
  • Residential hauling technique pre-1965. Open top dump-truck with running boards on both sides; at least one man on each side plus driver, stepping on running board while lifting/carrying can, lifting and dumping can at least 45" above ground, sweeping upside-down can from side to side to spread trash around, stepping down and dropping empty on ground then picking up next can and repeating as needed. Jumped on running boards and held on till next stop. Time: About 45 seconds per can. Capacity: 220 cans. Work interval between bad back episodes: five days
  • Residential hauling technique post-1965. Covered bodied compaction truck with rear loading hopper; one man plus driver, lifting and dumping can into empty hopper from ground level, dropping empty on ground and repeating as necessary. Jump on rear step, activate compaction lever and held on till next stop. Time: About 30 seconds per can. Capacity: 800 cans. Work interval between bad back episodes: forty five days

OK, that's enough for now. Too many memories. And too much turkey-ala-king.

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