“I love trash. Anything dirty or dingy or dusty. Anything rotten or ragged or rusty. I love it because it’s trash!”
This was my favorite Sesame Street song from the great, Oscar the Grouch. I just loved that song. Still know most of the words. But it just ain’t so. If there is one house chore I truly hate, it’s taking out the trash.
Back in Philly, we had trash pickup once a week. Unfortunately for me, it was on a Friday morning and my husband worked at least 3 states away. So taking out the trash was my job. It was not easy to do, lugging trash bags and recycling to the front curb when I lived in a Victorian row house. The trash was kept out back and I either had to pull it through the house, or take it through the back alley, around the other houses, and back down the street until it landed at my front steps. To add to my hatred of the job, my husband and I were weekend warriors when it came to house restoration. So there was always larger items, things sticking out with nails, and things that were too heavy for me. The amount of trash I had to carry was never proportionate to the number of people living in the house. I just hated it!
In Ankara, taking out the trash is no problem. Ankara has very few single homes. Almost everyone lives in an apartment building, whether you own your unit or rent it. Each building has a person who takes care of the grounds, including taking out the trash – which is done on a daily basis.
This is how it goes. I use those annoying little plastic shopping bags for my trash. You know the ones. They replaced those wonderful brown paper bags in almost every market. We have a tremendous amount of plastic bags here since no one seems to use paper anymore. Even though I carry my cloth bag to the market, the stores insist on putting all of my fruits and vegetables in individual plastic bags.
Anyway, I keep a little plastic bag on my kitchen counter. Every evening between 5pm and 7 pm, I set the bag outside my apartment’s door. A very nice man comes and picks it up, adds it to a collection in a larger bag, and takes it outside, setting it in a pile across the street.
The icky part is that before the truck comes to collect the trash, other people come by, ripping open the bags, stealing anything that is recyclable. While I like what Ankara does with trash for the most part, this is very disturbing to me. It should be against the law. Apparently there is a recycling program here — it’s just no one has any idea what it is. We try and separate our trash, putting recyclables in clear plastic bags, and hoping our building guy doesn’t mix it in with the other trash so these recycling thieves have easier access without disturbing our trash pile. The streets and sidewalks can become a bit nasty after 7pm before the collection.
Then a miracle happens. The trash truck comes down the street every night. (I agree that this is a bit much and a waste of money. But it is amazing!) There are two guys who stop in front of every apartment building picking up the piles. The truly amazing part is that there are two guys that follow them. One has a broom, sweeping where the piles were, picking up the remainders. Behind him comes another guy who picks up the pieces he may have missed. By 11p.m., it’s like nothing ever happened there. All of the trash is gone, nothing left behind. And I am snug in my bed resting easily in the knowledge that I had nothing to do with it. Four months have passed without suffering through that chore!
Finally, once a week the building guy washes down our halls, steps, sidewalk, an the spot where the trash goes with a hose. That’s right, he uses a hose in the building! It’s different, but it works. The marble steps sparkle. There are no nasty smells left behind. And I don’t have to do it! Life is good.