Friday, January 30, 2015

Tipping the garbage guys

As I was pulling out of my nabe this chilly morning, I found myself behind a municipal truck with a couple of guys in day-glo vests collecting yard waste.  One of the two guys had hopped off and was collecting a bit of scrub, and there was a bit more than he could get in one armload. Maybe I'm just projecting, but his body language to me conveyed fear, because it was rush hour time, and here I was, a guy in a white shirt and a tie (I'm headed to Victor's memorial service later) in a silver Prius -- which conveys its own attitude.  I rolled down my window and said "you're good!" and then, as they pulled away up Ridgecrest, I rolled down my other window and called out to both of the guys "have a great day!"  They were visibly enthused, and waved and smiled and called back to me.

I have often thought about tipping the garbage guys.  We now tip school teachers, newspaper delivery people, baristas, etc.  These people are all worthy of some sort of gratuity, to differing degrees, but the people riding on the outside of those stinky trucks more so than most.  The trick is, how could you do it?  Unlike the newspaper people, they can't leave notes telling us about their lives and how to send money to them.*

Sometimes waste handlers work for outsourced companies like Waste Management or North Carolina's own Waste Industries.  Most of these firms have implemented good processes to use mechanical arms to pick up trash and recycling without a human jumping off the truck.  That's part of another thread about automation and low-paying jobs disappearing.  Forget about them.

Back to the guys riding the trucks in the cold.  How can we tip them?  This is a worthy question.

*Now that I think of it, how do I actually know that the note left in my driveway around the holidays is from the actual newspaper person?  That would be a great scam.

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