I’d like to offer a new regular feature here on this blog entitled, “Shit I have to get used to now that I live in Nashville.”
Let me preface this by saying how much I love it here, but every new place has its quirks, and Nashville seems to have quite a few. So to my new friends: no offense, but y’all do things a tad differently around these parts. Old friends: You guys are not going to believe this.
One of the biggest domestic obstacles I’ve faced here is trash pickup service. In every other state we’ve lived in, waste services were through the city-- you put out your cans twice a week along with curbside recycling and the trash would be picked up without incident. Life was good and clean.
Here, they run things differently.
There is no city pickup, so everything is run privately. Our neighborhood probably has 15 different companies that pick up trash, but no one seems to want to coordinate one main vendor because--and you’ll hear this phrase a lot-- “That’s not how we do things in the South.”
When I called the number that our realtor left to arrange for service, it rang to a cell phone somewhere with background noises that suggested either illegal cockfighting or filming of a new TLC reality series.
“Do I need any special size can or place it somewhere specific on the curb?”
“Just leave any can you want outside or in your garage with the back door unlocked, we’ll get it. We don’t have a whole lot of rules.”
“Ok, what about recycling?”
“Yeah, we don’t really get into that.”
A week later, this shows up in the driveway; a 1983 Ford F-150 retro-fitted with a dumpster. Nothing that isn’t double-bagged or bigger than a Dixie cup gets picked up and we haul the recycling up to the drop-off center every weekend.
For months I try in vain to find a new company. Over half of the numbers in the Yellow Pages (Yes, that archaic scroll) are disconnected, and the other half don’t service our area. I drive around the neighborhood following real garbage trucks and frantically writing down numbers from my neighbors trash cans--all with the same result.
In the mean time, the original company reduces pickup days from two to one without lowering the bill and only communicates through passive-aggressive notes taped on the can.
Finally, at long last I get a hold of a company that will not only pick up ALL of the trash with a real trash truck, but also collects recycling!
I eagerly await the first week and they empty the trash can they provided, but not the loose trash at the bottom of the other can that the first company has refused. Fine, I have lived in the South long enough to realize how this is supposed to go.
The next week, I leave my own very nice note and a small cash incentive asking if new trash company will please just empty the other can this once of the loose items so we can start fresh and move on. I check outside all morning to see if in fact the trash has been taken.
What was taken was the 20 bucks before the trash guys ever got there.
And the recycling? Well, we’re still taking that up to the center every weekend, facing the scowls of the employees who must secretly hate the planet or something because they give you such a hard time at every drop-off since no retailer in Middle Tennessee sells the special blue recycling bags the Company B will pick up. And now that we have our cans at the end of the driveway on pickup days, the entire county throws their loose trash in our cans creating an even bigger mess than before that Company A or B and our car now looks like the above picture after months of hauling trash in it.
If I’ve said one untruth, please, native Nashvillians, correct me publicly.
But that fact is that not only can’t I make this shit up, I can’t get my shit hauled away.
Photo credit: Me. Because Google didn't even believe me that there was such a thing.