the rhythm of suburban life

I find comfort in the garbage collection man. Not in his manly, truck driving embrace. I have to admit that I have never been hugged by the garbo. But I love that every Friday morning he comes past my house. Without fail. It’s like clockwork.

In fact, it’s more reliable than clockwork. We had a power cut the other night and so, when I woke, the clocks were flashing 2 am. But not in the land of garbage collection. His clock was working fine. He doesn’t seem to know that it’s Easter holiday, or when it’s Christmas, or any other day of idleness.

He creates a weekly punctuation in our lives. We offer up the discarded, used, broken and abandoned from a week of consuming. And he gives us consistency: That whatever else is happening at number 12, the garbage will be collected. The lifecycle of refuse goes on.

His weekly song is so often unnoticed. The hum and clank. The engine whirr as he drives on to the next offering. The soft squeal of his brakes. Repeating into the distance. He creates the rhythm of suburban life.

garbage trucks



17 thoughts on “the rhythm of suburban life

  1. Sometimes he’s too regular for me and is already driving off when I race out with trash:) But, there is definitely something to be said for reliablility in an unreliable world…:)

    • In fact it’s more than the regularity for me; it’s the community it gives to an otherwise disparate and uncommunicative neighbourhood; the commonality it brings and the reliance on someone else in the street to communicate which bins go out each week. It’s the unspoken reliability – which houses you can rely upon; which ones put both bins out each week just in case; and which ones never get it quite right…so much can be gleaned from the simple act of putting your bin out!

  2. I’ve also thought about how interesting it is that the community which may have no other contact, relies on each other to know which bin to put out – the unspoken reliance on each other. It actually brings a sense of community to a place…funny that!

  3. Thanks for making “the unnoticeable” man to our everyday hero .. what should we do without them.
    We all get so annoyed with we end up behind their collection vans .. on the narrow streets

  4. Gerald is always asking how only TWO people can generate so much trash (as he is collecting the bins to take up to the dumpster). He’s not sure whether we are the “cleanest” or the “dirtiest” people. I say we are just comfortably untidy. Bless the Trashman

    • I know what you mean. We’ve nominated for the smaller bin service and it keeps us in check. It’s actually a difficult task to cut household waste. We aren’t big producers of trash relatively speaking, we have chickens and the dog for food scraps, we recycle … but still, we put the bins out every week. We’re clean people (well, my husband in particular) so we don’t keep things that classify as ‘rubbish’. You’re probably clean people. :)

      • He’s a funny guy. My brother has a friend who is in waste management (GARbidge) and they are taking him out there and he gets to go in the truck, etc… Maybe someday he’ll invent a better way of getting rid of GARbidge!

  5. I love how you phrased that. I recently moved to an older suburb in the D.C. area after growing up primarily in a more rural setting. I definitely felt that security within consistency when it came to the mail. At my old house, the mailbox wasn’t really visible from the house (long driveway), but here a specific person delivers it at almost the same time as I am getting home every day. I love it. Imagine how much these people must see about daily life that we miss or don’t care to notice.

    • Thank you for this comment. Too true. The postie is of a similar vein to the garbo. In fact I’m working on a little piece in honour of our postman too. He sounds a bit more like a buzz though, wouldn’t you say?

  6. Pingback: the postman only comes once | barelypoppins

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