25 October 2006

Leaves everywhere

For some reason falling leaves seem to be Enemy #1 around here...and they are swept up almost as fast as they fall. I can't really understand this, because to me they are so beautiful and natural and they will just become mulch under the snow in a month or so, won't they?

During my walk to school in the morning I pass numerous women, mostly elderly, bent at the waist, backs parallel to the ground, sweeping leaves. Their brooms are about 2 feet long, forcing them to bend over really far in order to reach the ground. Their "dust pans" are made of metal, and must be really cold to hold on to. Usually they are putting the leaves into big trash bags, and after that I don't know what happens to them.

In the park there is a flatbed truck which serves as the trash truck and leave truck. Interestingly, the bed to this truck is only about 3 feet deep, so much of what's inside flies out when it moves.

Often you'll see someone sweeping into the wind, scattering leaves more than gathering, or someone else dropping more leaves to the ground than they manage to put into the trash bag. It has occurred to me that perhaps they are creating work for themselves. At home I might think they get paid by the hour, and are therefore not in any hurry to accomplish their task. However, here I'm not sure that they're paid at all.

We've had similar puzzlement over the trash issue. I've come to the conclusion that people really do want to throw their trash in a trash can, there just aren't any. They will often pile their trash neatly in a pile, with a lot of other people's trash, near an overflowing trash bin, or just in a corner somewhere, where there ought to be one. Perhaps this severe lack of trash bin creates jobs for people: picking up trash. If you installed dozens of new bins, someone could just dump them, replace the bag, and be done with it. As it is, someone sweeps it to a neat pile somewhere, and then by hand puts it in a bag. It's easily a half day's work. I've heard of Volunteers meeting opposition when trying to install new trashcans in a city. It takes away jobs.

No comments: