Tuesday, May 11, 2010

DC how to #745: How to get your trash collected

Ostensibly, our garbage and recycling get picked up twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays.

The reality is that the Tuesday people almost never collect the garbage. They've probably picked it up a handful of times in the almost-year that we've lived there.

The Friday people, they're a lot better

Except when they aren't.

End result is that sometimes our trash doesn't get picked up for a week. Or two, as was the case earlier this month.

So this morning I awoke to a frantic ringing of our doorbell. I wondered why Nick wasn't getting it.

And then it turned out it was Nick. Clad in a T-shirt, boxers, and felt clogs. As you might be at 7 am.

Because this morning, Nick heard the garbage truck, and he sprinted outside. They come early, and he was up with Jordan. He set J in the playpen and dashed out back. And the door locked behind him.


Which meant he had to mince down the alley, up the block, and halfway down our street to get to our front door.


Oh, but my how-to point is this.

So Nick said - and I love how he acted like he was just strolling out there to ask them a casual question in his underwear - that he was just wondering why they didn't pick up our garbage.

They wanted to know if it was a group house.


"Well then, we should be picking it up."

(Yes, gentlemen, yes, you should...)

"The problem is," Nick said, "it never gets picked up on Tuesdays. So I'm wondering if there's some issue?"

"Well, you know," the guy said, "we do accept Christmas cards. And I don't believe we got one from you last Christmas."

So next Tuesday, they're getting a Christmas card. So that we don't have to shovel up a bag of diapers that's gotten ripped into and strewn about (by what I of course assume to be rabid, diaper-munching raccoons) in the week or so that it's been in the alley.

And that, my friends, is how to get your trash collected in our nation's capital.


  1. Seriously???????? Holy CRAP. I cannot believe they said that to you! You didn't tip them at Xmas so they don't pick up your trash??? Wow.

  2. SO WRONG. i haven't stalked you enough to know but if you're in DC proper call 311 on their asses immedately. my hubby loves to call 311 and 911 on lots of stuff, but we've had issues with trash/recyling/bulk pick up and 311 has always helped us a lot! if you're in arlington, i dont know what to tell you.

  3. Are they government employees? If so, that could totally be interpreted as demanding a bribe.

  4. I think they should get a Christmas card with a picture of Nick in his boxers. They'll never forget you. Oh, it's underwear conversation guy!

    I never knew about this tipping the garbage man thing. I'm not even sure how one goes about distributing a Christmas card/tip/gift to a trash collector.

  5. We do accept Christmas cards? Who DOESN'T accept Christmas cards?

    In any case, David is always worried that when we leave Alex in his crib alone without the video monitor on him that diaper-munching raccoons are going to get him. In our high rise condo.

    I'm not sure why you needed to know that....

  6. Can Nick use his lawyer skills to write a lawsuit inside the card? Or a good legal threat?

    I'd totally call the 311 line. That's kinda like a cabbie refusing to take you where you want to go in my mind. It's their freaking job to pick up the trash. Wow, I'm getting more annoyed about this by the moment. I can't believe Nick's jaw didn't hit the ground when the guy said that.

    Anyways, I'd report them. It'd be really funny to email Fenty a link to this post.

  7. haha I can't believe they actually admitted that was the reason!

  8. what the fudgcicles?!??! seriously?!?!?! they won't pick up the garbage because of no christmas card (or i guess they were implying because they got no tip)? thats such crap. It's their JOB to pick up the garbage.... What gives them the right to refuse service if you don't tip them? (sorry, i am a little ranty about how people who work normal 'non-tippy' jobs get pissed off when you dont tip them) i think i may post about that today, and just get it all out of my system.

  9. Just get them the card. The total + potential headache involved in any other route isn't worth it.

  10. were they joking?

    (freshly ground black pepper on top of your garbage prevents sneaky raccoons from ripping into it. for reals. you might feel silly garnishing your garbage but it works. just in case the Christmas card doesn't.)

  11. cla517 - I wish we'd known this sooner, honestly.

    lustyreader - I've called 311 before. Last week I filled out some form on the web saying they'd missed a trash pickup. And got an email saying the issue had been resolved...which wasn't the case. But they did pick up Friday.

    Shannon - I believe they are government. And I believe you are correct.

    Lisa - This makes me laugh. And makes me think we definitely need to send out Xmas cards next year!

    KLZ - The raccoons are no joke! Even the non-rabid ones! They can pick locks! Not to fret you, but I feel like his fears are totally valid.

    FoggyDew - While I'd love to champion fairness and change the system, I don't see a point. Like VVK said, it'll be a huge, not worth it headache. And this seems like a tiny little drop in a much bigger bucket. It's worth it to me to get my trash removed regularly.

    Grace - It's kind of ballsy, huh?

    K-Tee - Yah, it's true...it's not that they have the right, but it is in their hands. And it's not like we have anywhere else to put our trash, practically speaking. A weekly dump run is just not going to happen.

    VVK - I'm in total agreement. I see the other avenues getting us nowhere but with trash piled up behind our house.

    Hillary - I'm totally open to heading out with the pepper grinder. Like, you put it on top of the sealed bag? Or on the garbage can lid? Or in the garbage before you close up the bag?

  12. That makes me think of the episode of Friends where Monica made cookies instead of tips and the peasants revolted.

    Seriously . . . I think someone should put in a complaint about them. Isn't it their JOB to do this??? It makes me sick.

  13. Are you serious?! If I put on my bitter, ridiculous cap (with Compast embroidered on the front), I could corelate not receiving a holiday card with spotty service through January. But May? Hilarious image of Nick you painted for us :)

  14. definitelyjennifer5/11/2010 5:05 PM

    i assume those Christmas cards are supposed to come with christmas tips, right?
    and i wish we got our trash picked up 2x a week! ours comes on friday which means when we do yardwork on the weekend our can is filled all damn week.
    stupid system.

  15. We live in DC and tip our garbage men with a $10 starbucks gift card. I'd hoped it mean that they'd start putting the cans back neatly. I guess now I know I'm just lucky that they actually pick up the trash.

    BTW -- Does this mean that the Tuesday people just pick up everyone else's and drive on by yours?

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  17. How about a picture of Nick in his boxers and a santa hat , standing at the kurbside holding a full garbage bag with the hugest cheesiest grin he can muster. Oh oh I know, boxers and the gold paisley smoking jacket would be even better.
    Go on I dare ya's to :-D

  18. Baksheesh for garbage pick-up! I love it!

  19. Lynn - I feel like probably most of DC runs this way, and it just is what it is. All the countries we lived in growing up did. On the one hand I don't want to support it, but on the other, at least they're not the Sopranos.:)

    P - Oh, I remember that one! Yah, I'll remember not to make cookies. Cash! Cash for Christmas!

    HKW - I don't remember them giving us much service pre-Christmas either. So I suppose we were supposed to "tip" them in advance?

    definitelyjennifer - Yah. I don't think they actually give a rat's ass about the card.

    And I am fine with once a week, as long as it's reliably once a week. But twice is better, as we have a shitload of diapers (no pun, ha).

    Melissa - They don't necessarily pick up everyone else's - last week they also left our next-door neighbors' garbage too, and it spilled out and smelled like death. But they took the ones across the alley. Nick is more observant than I, so he might know what the pattern is.

    Go-Betty - That is a spectacular idea! Now, getting him to actually do it is another matter entirely...

    Wendy - That's EXACTLY what my mom said! Oh, baksheesh!

  20. Yes, yes, like the others said - a Christmas card with a picture of Nick in his boxers! Oh, to be a fly on the wasl when they opened the card!

  21. I'd send them a card and then note that you've "cc'd" it to the Washington Post. Maybe the Times, too. And the Mayor's office.

    And if you have neighbors that you like, that haven't had the same problem... maybe you could ask them to let you put a bag in their trash can from time to time?


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