WITT: Trash collection often thankless job

Published 7:23 am Tuesday, May 1, 2018

When was the last time you thanked your garbage collector for the job he’s doing? Never? Why?

Think about it.

Where would people be without these workers going about their daily chores, cleaning up the debris left by the lifestyle of today?

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Think about those scenes from the past in places like New York City, when sanitation workers went on strike and huge mounds of trash and garbage were left to accumulate on the sidewalks and in the streets, drawing flies, mosquitoes, cats, dogs, even rats.

The stink of rotting garbage must not have been a particularly pleasant aroma either.

The fellows who collect the garbage and trash generated here in Winchester and Clark County, whether they work for Winchester Municipal Utilities or for one of the various private haulers, do a thankless job. And they do it in all the extremes of weather that one could think of, rain, snow, sleet, the heat of summer, the chill of winter.

They perform a valuable service which is mostly forgotten, because they may come in the early hours of the morning, before many people are even up for the day or because they appear for such a short period of time and are gone on to the next house or business.

Most people give very little thought to what they throw away because discarding stuff is so convenient.

Put it out on the curb and before you know it, it has disappeared.

It’s not rare to see valuable items thrown out to be collected and disposed of, such as usable toys, bicycles or appliances. Of course, many of these items have ceased to work, but many get discarded simply because they have been replaced by a newer model.

Fortunately, in addition to the collection of trash, there are individuals who drive the neighborhoods on a regular basis and pick through curbside throwaways to pull out items which still have useful life and can be recycled or reused in their present form.

It is regrettable more people don’t take advantage of the recycling services available here. Saving and recycling metal and aluminum cans, plastic, newspapers, mixed paper and cardboard takes a tremendous load off the necessary disposal of those same items. While it requires some dedication to collect these recyclable items and deliver them to the recycling site, there is a sense of satisfaction in knowing a sizeable portion of what one normally throws away is being repurposed and taken out of the waste stream.

Here in Clark County, residents are blessed with occasional collection days during which other items not normally collected can be turned in to be disposed of in more desirable ways; items such as old paint, other chemicals, fluorescent lamps, etc.

But back to the gentlemen who daily collect our discards.

Everyone should take the time to ponder the valuable service they provide and the conditions under which they work.

There are many ways to thank them for what they do for all of us. The easiest way is to simply acknowledge them if you see them working. A friendly “Hi” or “Good morning” goes a long way.

And, during the Christmas season, perhaps a modest gift of a few dollars would be deeply appreciated. If everyone on their routes would give just a few dollars, it would obviously add up to a more substantial sum and make these fellows, who work awfully hard for modest pay, very appreciative.

Chuck Witt is a retired architect and a lifelong resident of Winchester. He can be reached at chuck740@bellsouth.net.