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I love my job

Again, sorry it’s been so long since the last post.  Business has finally picked up enough for Bossman to announce, a few days ago, that I could finally get more days in the schedule. So to celebrate my official re-entry into the world of hauling, and to mentally prepare for the busy season, I decided to write something that would remind me why I love what I do and reaffirm some little pledges I give to myself. Now that I read over it, I realize a couple things.  One, I’m a big dork.  And two, I’m incredibly lucky. (To have a job I actually like.)    Anyway, here it is:

Today will be special.  Today I will haul things from one place to another.

I will handle things that are too heavy or too messy for someone else.  I will use some knowledge and some creativity to sort these things and take them to the appropriate places so they can be reused, recycled, or buried most efficiently.

I will resist being overwhelmed by large piles. I will swiftly tackle jobs that many people see as undoable.  I will figure out how to get bulky or awkward items out of cramped spaces and around tight corners safely.

Today I will get some exercise.

Today I will get to travel to many different places. I will see little corners of the world that many people do not get to see. I will learn about how people live by studying what they discard.  I will get to know the city better by navigating its streets and actually entering homes and talking with residents in all of its neighborhoods. And I will witness a little bit of history in every piece of ephemera that passes before me.

I will spend much of today outside, feeling the sun on my face.

And then I will be let into people’s homes and trusted to see things even their own families may not be allowed to see.  I will help them deal with difficult changes in their lives, like death, divorce, and moving, with sensitivity and respect.

I will do all this unsupervised and unsurveilled by management, in the good company of a partner who I like and trust. I will be friendly and foster solidarity with any others I come into contact with working to transport and process waste.

I will make some mistakes, and I will keep learning how to do my job better.

I will do the same things today that I do every day, and that is why today will be special.  Because every day is special when you’re a hauler.

Maybe it’s ridiculous to be so invested in wage labor.  Maybe my happiness serves the capitalist machine by keeping me docile.  But another thing I could add to what I wrote is that every day, the difference I make – in making sure things get reused and recycled, etc. – is very tangible, even measurable in weight or volume of actual items/materials.  That feels good, even if what I’m doing is only a sort of damage control and does little to change the system.  I’ll try to effect change in other ways when I’m not hauling.  But I’ll also resist the tendency to go through life stubbornly dis-identifying with what I spend a huge part of my time doing, like some day-job waiter going on 40 who still thinks of himself as “really a musician”. When I haul, I’ll haul with pride.  And I’ll post about it here more regularly, I promise.  Thanks for reading.

car-chasing park

The City recently put in a dog park on a big tract of land close to an intersection that’s right on our usual route to the MRF.  It’s an interesting location for a dog park, because people who bring their dogs there – perhaps inspired by thoughts of their dogs running free or catching frisbees or something – are reduced to watching their beloved pets run up and down along the fence barking rabidly at passing vehicles.  Especially big, loud vehicles like our truck.

Today as I was stopped at the light, I got to witness the precise moment when a dog set its sights on the truck.  It had been barking without focus in the general direction of the intersection, but when I pulled up, its barking quickened and I saw its muscles tense as it did a little pirouette in anticipation of the upcoming chase.  And there was its owner, leash in hand, watching helplessly in the distance.  When the light turned green I took off slowly, keeping my eyes on the dog.  It ran at breakneck speed straight along the dog park fence, somehow managing to turn its head and bark every few strides.  As I reached the speed limit and the dog reached the limits of its physical abilities, we proceeded neck and neck for a short while.  Looking over at the dog, the way it ran with such single-minded abandon, I felt for a second like a woolly mammoth or something must have felt millions of years ago being pursued this way by an ancestor of this dog.  I have no idea if dogs were around at the same time as woolly mammoths, but you get what I’m saying, don’t you?  How beautiful pure instinct can be?

Anyway.

And then there’s learning.  Environment.  Suddenly the dog stopped dead in its tracks, and I realized that what neither I nor a dog going 40 miles per hour could  actually see – the precise location of the end of the roadside section of the dog park fence – was indelibly etched into its memory from so many of these chases.   It stayed there in the corner jumping and barking until I couldn’t see it anymore in my side mirror.

a tale of two boots

“Sorry I haven’t posted in a while.”  Ah, that special blogger’s guilt.  Something interesting happened the other day, though, and I’m going to post about it soon. In the meantime…

The holes in my steel-toed hauling boots were letting in a little too much water, so I went and bought new ones.  Luckily, I was able to find the exact same kind as I bought two years ago.  So I thought I’d take a picture of one of the old and new pairs side-by-side:

old boot, new boot

tip your haulers

It’s a rare occasion when we get tips from customers. Movers get tipped more regularly, even though it’s often us haulers who are doing the more onerous work.

I can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard from a client, after swiftly maneuvering a couch up a two-turn stairway, “Wow, it took the movers twenty minutes to do that. And they scratched up the walls!” Then no tip. And sometimes we’ll be at a job the same time as the movers and they’ll tell us they’re sorry we have to deal with the ‘leftovers’ but they’re glad it’s not them.

But this is about more than us. Think about your everyday household waste. Every week someone comes and takes away the stuff you don’t want to deal with. That is kind of amazing. Like postal delivery, it’s this extremely important service that people often take for granted.

I say don’t take it for granted. Some people still give their mail carriers a little holiday bonus. Why not show your garbage collectors that you appreciate what they do too? We always appreciate tips. Plus, your hauler, like your mail carrier, is a good person to have on your side.

Join the brown ribbon campaign to tip haulers. Copy one of the images below (or make your own; sorry, i’m no graphic designer) and post them on your website. Together we can make sure haulers everywhere know they’re appreciated.

tiphaulersbrownribbon.jpg tiphaulersbrownribbon-websm.jpg tiphaulersbrownribbon-web-t.jpg

tip-your-haulers-700px.jpg

occupational blogs

Hauling Secrets is where I write about my experiences as a hauler. I like the idea of “occupational” or “work-related” blogs, where you can learn a little something about other people’s working lives. So I searched the internet for other people doing the same thing. After clicking through and reading enough to get a taste of way too many of them, I’ve made a little list of some of the very best work-related blogs. Here they are, in alphabetical order:

Adventures of Chopper Chick – a helicopter pilot fighting fires and flying for a news channel in LA
At Your Cervix – a registered nurse in a teaching hospital’s labor and delivery unit
Clublife – a NYC club bouncer’s blog
Cockpit Conversation – a commercial aviator in Canada
Confessions of a Community College Dean
Doctor Anonymous
– a doctor somewhere in the Midwest
Evil HR Lady – answers your HR questions
Flight Level 390 – an airline pilot, with pictures from the cockpit
Ghosty Ghosty Crocodile
– indie escort girl
ISED8U – (“I sedate you”) “adventures in anesthesia” by a certified registered nurse anesthetist
Johnny Law Chronicles
– detective in a large Southwestern US city
Law & Disorder – Iowa cop and forensic computer specialist
Mental Nurse – mental health nursing in the UK
Nee Naw – memorable calls and more from a dispatcher at London Ambulance’s control room
Negative, Ghostrider
– a nightshift cop’s blog
New York Hack – pictures from a NYC cab driver
Ob/Gyn Kenobi – OB/GYN blog
Random Acts of Reality – blog of an EMT working for London Ambulance Service. Wrote a post about how to blog and not lose your job.
The Report Card – a teacher at a school of “never ending chaos”
Rest Area 300M – “confessions of a New Zealand Road Worker”
Truck Driver Blog – a professional long haul trucker
Waiter Rant – waiter in a fancy NYC restaurant

These are some of the best work related blogs I’ve had the pleasure of finding and perusing before my eyes got tired. Special attention has been paid to bloggers who try to remain anonymous and who stay mostly on the topic of work. There are hundreds more out there. If you know of any good ones that I missed, please comment on this post.

about Hauling Secrets

If you’re a new reader, here’s a little bit about how Hauling Secrets has taken shape since I first wrote the About page and the first post in January.

This is a blog about waste hauling. About the industry in general, and about the particular style of waste hauling practiced by me and my coworkers here in Anytown, USA. There’s a sort of culture to our workplace, and I think sometimes it can be special.

I can’t tell you how many times people say to us, “I bet you guys see some interesting things.” Yes, we do. And here on this blog, we’re beginning to catalog them. Things like rare Nazi propaganda, a phrenology exam from 1855, scary clown pictures, advertisements for blowjob devices, and buckets of dead mice. That’s just the beginning.

And we get an interesting view of American culture in general from our end of the wastestream. The joke about archaeologists is that they study people’s garbage. Well that’s what haulers do too. A kind of archaeology or anthropology of the present.

Occasionally I scan the news for hauling or waste-related items, like the growing threat presented by space debris, the EPA’s release of municipal solid waste numbers, and government crackdown on human waste collection in India. Or I reveal a little bit about this behind-closed-doors industry, such as who picks through your garbage after you put it out on the curb.

In the Pornface category, I post semi-weekly pictures of the faces of porn models from the pages of magazines we’ve come across while hauling.

Dear Lee Chin contains excerpts from the diary of a teenage girl from the year 1979.

The other categories should be pretty self-explanatory. And more categories will be coming as we continue to expand and refine our little blog and get new haulers involved and so on.

I am a hauler, not a coder or web designer. This site is old-fashioned I guess in that it’s a blog that concentrates on sharing and archiving compelling content. The WordPress blogging platform was easy enough to set up and tweak for a novice like me. But I apologize if this site’s code doesn’t validate or its design offends. Haulers don’t make much, and our budget for this is $0. I’ve had to learn it by doing it, starting from scratch.

So far the blog has not been worksafe, but I pledge to keep at least the front page images G-rated from now on, with warnings before clicking to the uncensored stuff.

We like comments. Since we (try to) write this blog anonymously, comments are one of the only ways we can tell there are people out there reading. And they give us incentive to keep writing and keeping track of this stuff. You don’t have to be registered to comment, but your first comment is held in moderation before it’s posted so we can make sure it’s not spam.

That about wraps it up. We hope you enjoy the blog. And if you know of any haulers who might want to contribute their stories here, please tell them about our site or have them write hauler AT haulingsecrets DOT COM. Thanks.

goodbye Edge

No Pornface this week, no Dear Lee Chin, no obscure trivia, or arcane philosophy, no nothing.  I’m not in the mood.  Something terrible has happened.

My hauling partner and friend The Edge has been fired.

I can’t go into details about why he was fired, but let’s just say he and Bossman just never saw eye to eye on some things.  For this and other reasons, hauling had lost some of its charm for the Edge during the past few months.  My hope was that this blog would help get him excited about things again and influence him to stay.  Now none of that matters.

And I don’t feel like posting anything more.

Goodbye Edge.  You were an expert hauler and overall sportsman, crossword master, prankster, blog author, and co-creator of essential things like “Theme of the Day” and “Glove Golf”.  And you listened to me ramble in the trucks all day long.  You are truly an irreplaceable partner, and you’ll be greatly missed.

in-truck doodle by The Edge

For the official first post here on our waste hauling blog, I’m going to share a picture that The Edge drew the other day while we were in the truck.

mortar

In this case, we know what was going through the artist’s mind while composing his masterpiece. I was talking on the phone with a client who was describing bags of mortar she wanted us to take from her front porch. Mortar.

I fell in love instantaneously with that little stick man holding his ears. The Edge probably knew what I was up to when I snatched it from our clipboard before he could doodle over it while he was on the phone a few minutes later. So here it is, Edge, immortalized in the first post on our new blog.

Also note what looks like a careful rendering of either a long, slender cirrus cloud or a five-minute-old contrail in the background sky. That’s actually a smudge from another piece of paper. Bravo, Edge!