Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Garbage Man 12/3/09

The Garbage Man 12/3/09
Weather -- Heavy clouds; blowing snow
Temp -- 24 F (12 C) Wind -- Of course, Strong from the west about 30 mph

First, Thanks to those who commented on the last few postings. Carol, I love Sister Gneiting and I know you well enough to appreciate your comments. Your daughter talks about you very positively and thinks you are a great mom. Thanks for the comments.

Second, Shannon, I missed you on the comments, but I'm sure the new job is taking a toll on your computer time. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I love you.

Now, about the garbage man. As a child, I was always impressed by the garbage man with his big truck and his big container that he carried into our back yard to dump our trash cans into. He could carry two trashcans full of garbage in one big container and carry it out to the truck. He must have been the strongest man in the world.
And the truck; that was amazing. It had this big place on the back where he'd dump his big container and then he'd pull a handle and the motor would roar and the big lid would come down and crush the garbage into the belly of the truck, leaving the hopper free to receive another big load of trash. What a thrill. I used to imagine what it would be like to be pushed by that big lid into the belly of that great monster truck like Jonah in the whale.

What was even more impressive was that he could ride on the back of the truck, standing on a little platform and holding on to a handle. That was very cool to a child who wasn't even allowed to stick his head out of the car window and feel the wind, let alone ride on the running board. Oh yes, most of you have no idea what a running board is. Google it.

Well, we used to have a similar system for our building, like most of these buildings, and it involved a big truck that came at 2:00 AM every night. But instead of a big man with a big barrel, with a big noisy truck, the truck had arms that came out and picked up the 4' x 4' x 5' tall square metal containers, lifted them up, and dumped them into the center of the truck's top. Then the motor would race as the packer ram would cram the trash into the belly of the truck just like in my childhood. Sometimes we would be late to bed and I got to see the whole operation from our 9th floor bedroom window at the stroke of 2 am.

Someone who works in some government office has devised, or at least has bought, a new, much more efficient and improved, process that has done away with the 2 am guy driving alone through the streets of Novosibirsk picking up these old, somewhat beat-up trashcans.

Now and we have a daytime pickup that comes sometime in the morning, usually before 10 am. I call it the two-guy clam-shell process and it has revolutionized the trash pickup process.

First, instead of that old packer truck we have an old flat-bed truck with a crane arm. This planner guy has single-handedly doubled the garbage dumpster worker rolls with a two man operation. Gone are the days of lonely garbage  truck drivers wending their way among the housing projects all alone. Now each truck has two operators with distinctively different jobs and probably a class distinction.

I suspect that the truck-guy who drives and operates the crane arm is on a higher level than the packer guy who moves the chains from the center of the container to the corners to open the clam-shell bin and dump the trash. He also gets to jump up and down on the trash to pack it down, sort of like the old truck but much quieter.

It is kind of odd that this new system requires the packer to put appliance boxes along the walls of the truck to get more in before they go to dump it. I wonder if he gets appliance boxes from the trash each day or whether he saves them from day to day.

After the packer sets his boxes and jumps on the trash, he climbs down off the truck and hooks the chains to the rings located in the center of the container. At the packer's signal, the truck guy lifts the container into the truck bed. Then the packer climbs back onto the truck and relocates the hooks to the four corners of the box. At another signal, the truck guy raises the crane and the edges of the box are lifted up, opening the clam-shell and dumping the trash into the truck. This is so efficient that it is unlikely that one guy thought of this process. It must have been a committee.

After the "dump" is complete, the truck guy swings the container back onto the container's pad. The packer jumps down onto the pad and relocates the chains to the center rings and at yet another signal to the truck guy the container is closed and set squarely on the pad. This is the most critical move because a crooked container could cause all sorts of mayhem, but I think their current philosophy is any landing you can walk away from is a good landing.

Well, that's it about the garbage man (men) and their new procedure. I can't help thinking about a movie about a Russian nuclear submarine that sank in the Baltic some years ago, I think the movie was named "The Widow Maker". The part I am remembering is that the engineer who had to shut down the reactor found that instead of having a radiation suit in the ship's supplies they had a chemical contamination suit because the supply department didn't have a radiation suit in stock to give them.

This garbage process exposes the packer to whatever is in the trash all day long (needles, used toilet tissue, rotten food, etc.) and then he brings it home to his family. I cannot believe no one thought about the contamination risk to someone handling and jumping on the trash all day. I guess it was just not considered significant; another part of life here.

What a country


Bob Steed said...

Designed by committee is right. Who knew the definition of progress was to double the amount of work while increasing the risks! Lots to learn from simple examples.

Trisha said...

This reminds me of a show I just wathed about the Black Plague. they just have no clue about how things really work. I am glad we have learned over the years. We may have gone too far in some areas, but it is cleaner.