Let’s Hear It For A Job Well Done

Amidst all the irate rhetoric in the air about the state of this city’s services, whether it be the TTC or, well, the TTC… there’s been a lot of bitching about the TTC of late… I think a shout out should be made when something positive catches your attention. A reminder to all the nabobs of negativity out there that Toronto runs pretty darn well and our needs are met with an efficient routine that goes largely unnoticed until it doesn’t, usually when something goes wrong which, as I’m trying to say in this long, convoluted introduction occurs less often than we might think. Or that politicians running for office would like us to think in order that we vote for them.

It was garbage night in my neighbourhood last night and, as is my wont, I threw my cape on up over my shoulders, and went out for a stroll to garbage pick, I’ll be frank. A treasure hunt for artifacts that others deem to be extraneous; my own personal recycling program. Springtime is a particularly bountiful period for this as people are more prone to junking stuff that has driven them batty over the long winter season, cramped up with it in close quarters as they were.

Making the rounds last evening, I was stopped up in front of a house, struck silent and motionless by the sheer amount of content sitting at curbside. It was not anything that I was on the lookout for, an old art deco floor lamp, for example, or LPs of long forgotten artists, just simply everyday detritus that must be dealt with every week (or bi-weekly as the case may be) from every house, on every street, in every neighbourhood. Tonight, for example, along with the compostable material in the green bin and non-recyclable garbage in the black, there was yard waste. Paper bags filled with old leaves, dead plants, pruned clippings or clipped prunings.

At this particular house that I stood before, there were 9 of these paper bags, all full. In addition to which, there were two neatly tied bundles of branches that clearly came from the dogwood which stood just back further up the front yard. And a Christmas tree, looking shockingly and robustly green. How is that even possible? Why would anyone still have a Christmas tree in April?

Moreover, there was no way in hell this was all going to be picked up tomorrow morning, I thought. It’s too much. Too, too much. What if everyone in every house on every street in every neighbourhood chucked away this amount of refuse, fully expecting it to be hauled away to some miracle location? The work would be non-stop and ultimately impossible to stay on top of.

Besides, haven’t we had it drummed into our subconsciousness that the city workers who do this job are lazy, shiftless, strike-taking ne’er-do-wells who are simply underworked and overpaid? No way, no how was this heap sitting out in front of this house all going to be taken away in one trip tomorrow morning.

Yet, gone it was as I took a slight detour up the street on my morning run early today. All of it. Not a twig left behind. Even the Christmas tree.

As we have pointed out in an earlier post here, all of this for a mere $6.39 a day for Toronto homeowners (in addition to all the other services we receive). What’s there to bitch about, people? Yes, it’s their job and they’re doing it. Could it be done cheaper? I guess so, although I’m still waiting for someone to send me the numbers to show where and how that’s being done. The only way it could be is to pay people less for doing the exact same job. Why would we want to do that? How does reducing people’s wages and benefits add to the well-being of this city?

Should they have the right to strike and inconvenience us all? Call me old school and a traditionalist but I say yes. It seems to be the best, most cost effective way we’ve come up with to maintain a healthy equilibrium in the ongoing struggle between management and workers. The alternative is simply a one-sided, take it or leave dynamic that never encourages but only instills fear and resentment. That’s a tone that plays well on the campaign trail, even to a larger degree during times of economic uncertainty like this one, but ultimately leads to piss poor governing.

Before giving in to that frame of mind, take a moment and think about all the things that go unnoticed throughout the course of one day and marvel at just how smoothly our city does in fact operate.

chidingly submitted by Urban Sophisticat