When we first moved into our apartment here in Williamsburg, our building became the first and only residential building on the block. I should say our side, the South side of Broadway between Thornton and Flushing; because there are a couple of residential buildings across the street.
Our side of the street starts with the Bed-Sty Diner on the corner of Thornton, a couple of “Big Shirt” stores (as the ever lovely Danusia likes to call them), FOUR dental clinics (two catering exclusively to children, and one where a patient was notoriously left in the chair and locked in one night under anesthesia), a pharmacy, a butcher, our friends the health food store right downstairs, two Arab owned bodegas, and a Burger king between us and the subway.
There is also a MacDonald’s across the street from the Bed Sty Diner.
There are three public garbage cans on the block, one on each corner and one in the middle of the block, just a few feet away from the front of our building.
There is also plenty of garbage.
A lot of it comes from the fast food joints, of course. People leave MacDonald’s or Burger King, finish their drink or food, and if they don’t throw their garbage on the ground, they make a feeble attempt to put it in one of the overflowing garbage cans.
When we first moved here, out landlord told us that the Department of Sanitation had been contacted and made aware of our new residential status and would be collecting trash on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings, and on Saturday recycle items would be picked up. Sounded good.
For the first few years, they would only pick up the black bags, the recycling people ignored us. The paper and mixed glass, metal and plastic would sit in front of the building for days until the Doe Fund people would bag it up in black bags. So much for the Mayor’s concern for better recycling.
Speaking of black bags, I found out the hard way, in a long conversation with a 311operator one day that all garbage except recycle is to be placed in black bags. I called to complain one day, and the conversation went like this:
“Was your garbage in black bags?”
“Well sir, the department of sanitation will not pick up garbage unless it is black bags or garbage cans.”
So I started buying black bags, and even putting my less conscientious neighbor’s into the black bags. Most times it was still not picked up.
One morning as I was leaving for work at 5:30 AM I found out why. Our garbage was assigned to the truck that picked up on the north side of the street; we had no truck of our own. If there was a car parked in front of our building and it blocked the driver’s view of the garbage in front of our building, they did not bother to cross over and look.
Our landlord gets a lot of tickets for uncollected garbage, but if he doesn’t want to pay someone to keep the front of the building clean, that’s his problem.
I find it hard to understand, though, how the garbage men, who patronize the Bed Sty Diner and the Arab bodega on the corner of Flushing in large numbers cannot take the time to pick up the garbage in front of our building.
Recently, the landlord started work on the apartment downstairs and threw out a lot of household garbage the people who’d moved out left behind. That stuff remained in front of the building for weeks, as a matter of fact, there is still a piece of wood, a slat that came out of that apartment that still resides either in the gutter or sometimes on the sidewalk in front of our home.
I love our apartment, it is a 1200 Square foot loft space, with two bedrooms, a kitchen and dining room, a good sized living room with 12-foot ceilings, and importantly to the lovely Danusia, lots of light. But it turns my stomach when I leave my apartment and have to encounter a big pile of trash that seems to grow every day, and watch Sanitation trucks callously drive by while their boss exhorts people to drink smaller sodas and eat less salt and grease. He thinks fat people are ugly. Well, I think garbage is pretty ugly too, Mr. Mayor; maybe you could exhort your employees to do their job in all the city neighborhoods, not just the ones you have to look at.