Friday, February 17, 2006

Waste Management

The contract for picking up trash in Key West is held by Waste Management, a company that holds similar contracts throughout North America.

In our neighborhood, Bahama Village, pickups are on Tuesday and Friday mornings. Waste Management uses the typical trash trucks, the ones that compact trash dumped into its rear. The trucks can be heard early in the morning racing from stop to stop with a roar of diesel engines and the sound of air brakes hissing.

Last Tuesday, I was on my way to the Coffee Plantation on my bicycle. I had just turned onto Olivia Street from Terry Lane. I could hear the truck idling at the corner of Olivia and Thomas Sts. as I made the turn. As i made my way the short distance from Terry Lane to Whitehead St., the truck raced up Olivia St. At first I got a quick blast from the air horn, apparently suggesting that I move aside, get out of the way. I must not have moved quickly enough, because the driver leaned on the horn as he came closer to me.

Olivia St. is narrow to begin with. Cars park on both sides, some in front of the Housing Authority property on one side, and some next to the Lighthouse Inn on the other side. There was no place for me to get out of the way until I reached the corner, only about 50 feet away. I lost my temper briefly when the driver leaned on the horn and charged up behind me. I stepped off my bike in the middle of the street, turned to the driver, and said something. His response was to lean on the horn again.

Following the incident, I called Waste Management's local office and filed a complaint. I didn't have the truck number or a good description of the driver, but the gentleman who took my complaint, Cecil, assured me that the route supervisor would know who it was and would "counsel" him.

There's an attitude here that bicycles don't have the same rights as cars -- or trash trucks -- to use the streets. Well, that's just wrong. Wrong. I gave my name, but Cecil didn't ask for an address or phone number. That was wrong too. Great customer service calls for follow-up. There won't be any here.

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