Living so far away from relatives makes it necessary to travel during the holidays.

Living so far away from relatives makes it necessary to travel during the holidays.  The trip ranges from 10-12 hours depending on traffic and the bladders of adults, children and dogs.

Upon returning home, I noticed a new vehicle parked in front of my garage.  It was dark, so I had to get some lights on in able to study what this thing was taking a space in my already crowded driveway.

The vehicle was big, grey, sturdy and had an advertisement on the side.  The sign said “County Waste” and listed a phone number. 

This was not a trash can.

According to the literature I received, this was a “wheeled cart.”

When did we stop calling things what they really are?

My homeowners association had sent out flyers explaining this new process and of course, the news of a higher assessment/monthly fee.  As always, I judge things by the price my Daddy paid for my first car.  It was a 1968 Mercury Cougar and he paid $150 for it.

I was happy and fortunate to have it.  I mopped floors, cleaned toilets and cut grass at around three dollars an hour in order to earn gas money.  (A note to my children – read what I just said again, slowly.)

Well, the way I figured it, I could buy one of those 1968 Cougars each month and still have money left over for gas.

Perhaps I need to look on the bright side.  This monthly fee gets me swimming pools, policemen and trash removal.  As a bonus, the policemen wave at me. 

I’m not complaining. 

When I first moved here, a fellow in a beat up pick-up truck with make-shift plywood sideboards picked up my trash.  I didn’t even have to put it by the road.  He came to the side of the house, got the can, took it to the truck, emptied it and then drove off to come back the following week.

Then it moved on to a service with nice fellows who would take anything you put by the road twice a week.

Now, I have “Automated Refuse Collection.”  On my paperwork, there is even an explanation of automated refuse collection.  “Homes are provided with carts that are rolled to the end of the driveway the evening before collection day.  Automated trucks are equipped with lifting mechanisms that easily empty specialized carts.”

I bet you would have never guessed that would you?

They go on to tell me that it is neat, clean and easy.  I’m sure that it is. 

Somewhere in the paperwork, it describes the wheeled cart as a “toter.”  Again, a new word for garbage can. 

This 96 gallon toter looks like you could get anywhere from 6 to 8 small children into it.  Not that you would do that, it is just very large.  Per the paperwork, please note, “These toters are easy to maneuver.”

One thing that is very important is that due to the automation, you must make sure that nothing is within five feet of your wheeled cart/toter.  The company notes the following in bold print with a line under it – “Please do not put anything you do not wish to be picked up near your carts.”

They give examples of lawn chairs, basketball hoops, mail boxes and bicycles.  This begs the question of “What if I do want it picked up?”  You know – a nagging spouse, the neighbor’s dog that insists on barking at 3 a.m. or even my old garbage cans that have served me so well for many years.

Could I put them within five feet?

We are living in a time with new words and new ways of doing things.  It seems obvious that one solution to having to pay people more, provide healthcare and other benefits is “automation.”  In other words, we don’t have to provide healthcare to the robotic arm for dumping the garbage.

We all see the problem with that solution and quite possibly the solution to that problem.

Perhaps we should study what we is being demanded and what we are putting in the garbage.  We seem to be throwing out a lot of things that worked very well and are going to be left with folks with nothing to do but watch robots do their job.

I understand both sides of this equation, I am a math guy – however I am unable to solve it.  In the meantime, “Do not get within five feet of my toter.”

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