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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Take care of your garbage men

Is garbage men politically correct? Is it trash collectors? How about sanitation specialists? I'm not sure. Either way, I've learned in Panama it's a good thing to take care of your trash collection team. When you put just the average amount of garbage outside your front door, you don't really have to worry about it. However, if you're piling tons of trash in front of your house, and bags of cement, and pieces of broken furniture, and old hubcaps...you get the point, it's a good idea to throw the guys a bone.

Every once in awhile I'll give the guys a cold beer. Or a dollar if I have change. Trust me, it'll be appreciated. These guys work for very little pay and they're out there from morning until night (I've seen the sanitation specialists picking up garbage at like 9 p.m.).

I recently had a large cardboard box from an air conditioner I'd bought sitting on my back porch. It had somehow become the trash collection point for all of the contractors we'd had at the house fixing the roof, working on the plumbing, and fixing my car. So the box was full of garbage. I didn't really know what to do with it, and I was worried that if I left it out on the curb, the trash team would just look at it and say, "No way, Jose."

It's funny. I learned that term in the States, but I don't think I've ever heard anyone from any Central American country say, "No way, Jose." Unless of course they were talking to someone named Jose and were asked which way Jose should go and they didn't necessarily agree with either of the choices so they simply said, "Well...no way, Jose. Don't go no way, Jose."

I'm being a goofball again, sorry. Back to my story. I had that big box full of garbage. I waited for the garbage men to show up. Then I ran outside with a cans of Coors Light; one for the driver and one for each of the guys hanging on to the back of the truck. They were thrilled. Then I asked if they would take the big box. They happily accepted it.

Be careful though. Where I used to live, the previous owner had given the garbage men too much. Apparently they'd become his best friends. He gave them money, sodas, beers, wine, food...everything. So when I moved in they would approach my house and ask me for stuff. It was super annoying. It got to where I would close the blinds and tell the kids to keep quiet whenever the truck rolled onto my street. I seriously, all joking aside, had a guy come to my front door and ask if I had any beer or coffee or a sandwich or anything. I got pissed and told the guy this wasn't Niko's Cafe (like a Denny's here in Panama). So you don't want to go overboard, just hook the guys up from time to time. Trust me...your life will be a whole lot easier when you need to get rid of larger garbage items.