If you’re anything like me and have been living in the same place for awhile you’ve probably collected lots of junk. Wife and I have had our house to ourselves for four years now since my Mother died and we’re still finding things that we have no use for. Well, even after we hired a dumpster to get rid of most of it and had a few garage sales we now have another chance coming up this weekend on May 18th — The Giant Sweep.
While the Giant Sweep affects District 4 on May 18th you’ll probably be receiving in the mail if you haven’t already a postcard telling you when your drop off day is and where. Ours is at Sunset Elementary School and I’ve done this once or twice before and I have to say that it is a pretty well organized event. You drive into the parking lot and if you’ve done things right you only need to pop your trunk and the guys there will pull everything out and sort it. It takes about a minute once it’s your turn and is something that’s really worth while if you’ve got lots of junk to get rid of . We happened to find a couple of wheeled boards that it took me awhile to figure out what they were, but they were carts for holding the old metal garbage cans we used to have about 40 years ago that we have no need for any longer.
The Giant Sweep will accept large, bulky items, materials that can be composted, non-recyclable/non-compostable waste and household hazardous waste. All you have to do is pack up your car and drive it out there between 8am and noon. If you’ve got stuff that you don’t need and don’t want to use one of your free Recology pick ups to have it taken away this is the day to do it. You can also pick up 5-10 gallons of free compost for your yard so you can have something to help your garden grow.
Once upon a time before the words artisanal and gourmet were used to describe food there were burger joints. Not fast food places like we’re used to, but places where you could order a burger they way you wanted it and the person behind the counter wouldn’t have a meltdown because they didn’t have a button on the register to push for that.
Clown Alley was one of these places. It was opened up on Columbus Avenue sometime in the 40’s by Enrico Banducci who also opened the Hungry I and the Purple Onion [where Phyllis Diller and others got their careers started]. The place wasn’t anything gorgeous to look at and I think the clowns used in the decor were more to distract you from the fact that you just walked into a corner dump to get a burger.
The burgers where well, burgers. Nothing artisanal or gourmet about them, they where just made from ground beef thrown on a grill and served up with french fries. What set them apart was that they were big. Huge to be more exact. They make quarter pounders look like white castle sliders.
This was the type of place that you went to eat what people ate when they were hungry. They didn’t go there for the ambience or organic produce that was put on the burger [is there really such a thing as organic iceberg lettuce and if so why?] I always liked to take friends who had come from outside the US here who wanted to try real American food. The burgers were made by hand and not a machine. They were cooked on a greasy old grill and they never quite tasted the same twice. If you had a great burger today it could be awful tomorrow, but if you were hungry and didn’t have a lot of money, you wouldn’t be hungry for the rest of the day. Today’s equivalent would probably be the burrito.
The 80’s and the beginning of the foodie way of life started to change this. Burgers became déclassé even if they were made with meat from a farm to table place and rolled into patties on the thigh of a virgin. The burger, a symbol of American culture had just become uncool.
It turns out that while Clown Alley has closed it has re-opened under the name Pickles with a few changes to the decor and menu. It’s still not the same as Enrico’s, but at least it’s not cooked and frozen in some other part of the country. While they served burgers just like any fast food place in the US there was something about a quirky place like this that was just different. You’d see guys in suits sitting next to construction workers both connected by some ground up meat on a bun.
So Monday night we have to put out our garbage. Twice in the last six months for some reason they haven’t picked up our garbage. I call and they tell me that they’ll pick it up the next day. OK, fine by me, but today we had a knock on the door…
The guy who’s picking up our trash says to my wife that the next time they don’t pick up our trash and have to come back the next day that they’re going to charge us $20. Does this sound like a shake down to you? I put it out, you pick it up. I put it out, you don’t pick it up that’s not my problem. I’m paying you to pick it up.
I called up Sunset Scavengers [kind of sounds like their seagulls doesn’t it?] and the woman I talked to was typing up a ticket for me to the Supervisor and she’s a nice woman, but she speaks what she’s typing and says, Didn’t pick up garbage twice in last six months, driver said there would be $20 charge next time, what the f*ck is going on here?
Well, it wasn’t the best customer service, but I have to agree with her.I think if this happens again I’ll have to ask my wife to ask the guy’s name and it’ll probably be Vinny.
GARBAGE! The tainted word on the street. My mother always told me that if I didn’t get good grades I would end up as a garbage collector. As it turns out the garbage collectors make a better wage than I was making with my college degree for some years. Now I have to admit that with technology’s evolution garbage collection has gotten much better and our streets are cleaner, so I’m not going to totally blame Recology who collects our garbage problem, but they are a part of it.
In my unemployed times I spent my mornings at home getting up early and pretty much doing nothing in the mornings except look for work on craigslist. Come garbage collection day I would hear the trucks come by and the guy would haul the bins to the truck that would pick them up and dump their contents into the garbage or recycle areas where they would be crushed down a bit.
These were still open areas and just as we all know when you stomp down your garbage to fit more in it expands back a bit afterwards. The problem with this is as the trucks pick up speed some of the garbage blows out the side of the bins back onto the street. San Francisco being the windy city that it is causes the garbage to be blown back across our lawns, houses, sometimes into our entryways. Just yesterday I pulled a receipt out of my entryway that turns out came from cafe out in the Mission. After that I picked up the lid and straw from a McDonald’s cup that the closest one was a couple miles away.
This isn’t discards from people driving by, but they come from one of two places: Recology trucks that let some of their garbage fly off or from recycle raccoons. The second are the people that at night when you put out your bins go through them to find anything of value to take and sell back at the local recycle areas in the neighborhood. Maybe that lid from McDonald’s came out of our bin from our last trip there, but we didn’t throw it on our lawn, the recycle raccoons who go through our bins, some of which I’ve seen stop and wait for you to bring your bins out and even say thank you before raiding your bins have forgotten to put back.
These people are essentially stealing money from the city by foraging in your waste bins for aluminum and glass. They’ll pull out the bags of recycling you’ve deposited and go through them to find what they need and the nice ones put back what they don’t. Some on the other hand leave the bags outside to move on quickly, or just give it a toss back without bothering to pick up what falls out.
These tend to be elderly citizens looking to make an extra buck and I don’t necessarily blame them for looking to make an extra buck, but they need to either understand that their presence is making our neighborhoods look ugly or Recology needs to find a way to keep them from raiding the bins. PG&E has a system that if you have a gate on the front of your house that the meter readers have a key to get in to read the meters, so perhaps Recology could create locked bins that the collectors would have to unlock before dumping in the trucks. It would also be nice if the bins were made of a more sturdy trapezoidal shape that would keep them from blowing over in the wind dumping their contents on the street rather than the inverse trapezoid shape that makes them top heavy and bottom light that doesn’t work with our winds.
I love my neighborhood, but it really burns my ass [thank you Terry Baum for that phrase] some days when I see my neighbors hard work and money invested in making their front yard look nice only to see it littered with paper and twine wrapped around their eco-friendly, low water consumption, San Francisco values plants.
I was prompted to write today’s post by events of last night. Tuesday Morning is garbage pick up day for us and so we put our cans out Monday evening. I get preoccupied every Monday and I can put the cans out between 6pm and 10pm. The same thing happens every time I put them out. Within five minutes I hear a rustling outside to find the picture included with this post.
Now while you can’t exactly tell from this picture, the woman rifling through my recycling is an elderly Chinese woman. You can see them throughout the day traveling around with shopping carts filled with stolen recycling or rifling through public garbage cans on the street in commercial areas.
Here is where I have a couple of points I’d like to make:
First off, you may not realize this, but this is technically theft. To go through the cans that are the property of the City and Country of San Francisco to retrieve material of value [i.e. aluminum cans and other recyclable material] you are robbing the City and County of San Francisco of money that could be used in the long run to reduce costs of garbage collection. I’ll admit that while they won’t get rich off of it, they have the trucks to process it more quickly than a person walking down the street with paper bags so they can get more bang for the buck than the average recycle raccoon going through your bin can.
This is aimed at all the Tiger Mom’s and Dad’s out there. I understand that you want your children to make something of themselves in life, who wouldn’t? How does this make your kids feel when they are told to work hard, get a good job, build a good family so that when you are retirement age you retire and walk around in salvation army clothes digging through other people’s garbage in the dark of night? Do you really want these people to send that message to your kids?
These are not role models I want my daughter to learn and even though the people are nice when I encounter them saying thank you, they need to realize that I and other people in San Francisco don’t put out our recycling to support you. We put it out to support the city and help lower prices a bit. If you’re going to steal my recycling to cash in then I’m going to have to ask for a cut of your profit. After I’m finished with this article I am going to make a sign and put it on my recycling container that says, If you remove recycling from this container I expect to have a $20 bill dropped in my mailbox on the first of every month. If I do not receive $20 per month I will photograph you removing my property and turn it over to the police.
Let’s face it, if THEY’RE going to make a buck on me, then I’m going to make a buck on them.
I was driving around today and happened to notice a sign on the side of someone’s house a couple of blocks from me. Now these people leave their garbage cans outside their house all the time. Technically in San Francisco you can get a ticket for that now because a lot of people were doing that and with your black can for garbage, your blue for recycling and your green for compost it can get to be a bit of an eye sore.
I guess the way these people get around this is by building a cute little nook to sort of hide them in. Let’s get real though, it’s not hiding them just putting them behind some ugly lattice work.
If you leave your garbage cans out even though they’re behind some lattice work cage people who have something to throw out are going to drop them in your can. If the homeowners don’t like that then they should do what is right and keep the cans in their house like their supposed to do. While I’m a pretty liberal kind of guy I’m not sure I’m going to like my young daughter seeing shit in big bold letters as she walks by the house because I know she’ll start saying “Shit! shit! shit!” instead of something like “Stop! stop! stop!” I think I might have to mention this to our local law enforcement people, but that might be considered a mean spirited of me.
I on the other hand wouldn’t mind people dropping off fish tanks in front of my house as I’d find a use for them. 🙂