The pandemic has thrown up some strange anomalies. One is the requirement to make a booking to throw rubbish away.
Our local tip, manned by binmen, or, to put it in modern, our recycling facility, assisted by colleagues, lies at the junction of two towns on a very busy corner for traffic. Once you manage to spot a break in the traffic whizzing round the corner towards where you are sitting, dangerously in the middle of the road waiting to turn right, you can enter and go up the hill. On the way vast signs with titchy writing mutter about a list of items you may not dump, a list of items you may not dump if you are a van over a certain size, a list of items you must make a booking to dump and what you will incur in the way of penalties if you do any of the above.
If you are of an age to recall Alice’s Restaurant and Arlo Guthrie, you are not only in the zone but also far out, man (or lady, all readers welcome here.) If you are not I suggest you put Alice’s Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie into a search engine and listen to Arlo Guthrie singing it. It was definitely one of the high points of 1967.
All the colleagues at our local recycling facility are not only aware of that song, they are keen to feature in it.
So, here is the background: difficult to get to, not welcoming.
And now,because of Covid you have to book.
Yep, you have to make an appointment to throw away rubbish.
How easy is the booking process, Jane? I hear you cry. ‘I’m assuming they want you to throw away stuff responsibly and therefore make it easy to book? No?’
The council engaged a specialist booking agency. They book tickets for pop concerts and the like. Having found the county council website and the correct page (three screens), you are redirected to the booking agency (two screens) confirm that throwing away rubbish is the event you are booking, and a couple of screens later you get to the page that lists the dates and times available. You cannot have today, even if it is empty or someone has decided on the spur of the moment to hang on to their old chip pan after all. Today is right out. Not even late this afternoon requested at eight in the morning.
The only space tomorrow is seven in the morning to seven fifteen.
No one can hurl old carpet over a wall that fast at seven in the morning.
Next day? Fully booked.
Finally you find a quiet spot a week next Tuesday and click on book, whereupon up pops a scrolling list that has to be checked off to enable you to book. You have to agree to being local, not dangerous, not sick, not in contact with sick people, not throwing away anything from the bad dog list, having read all the Ts and Cs, be of sound mind, be a responsible adult and have nothing better to do for half an hour than tick off some damn fool questions in a list. Halfway down there is an agreement to let the organisers clog up your inbox with adverts for the next six years, which, if you do not tick it, the next step will not work and you will have frozen screen – go back to square one, welcome to the council tip website.
By now the thing you wish to hurl over a wall is the event booking organisation, but in order to throw away your old carpet you must allow them to pop up in your inbox and have a jolly rendezvous with them there. And three emails later they refer you to your ticket which is secreted elsewhere on your computer. I spent half an hour of my life I will not get back looking for it and called the OH in, who after some muttering and flattering gave up quarter of an hour of his life returning to the scarcely looked-at screen of how the computer works to find the hidden ticket.
Three goes later, it printed.
Then three days before the booked quarter of an hour throwing things away, I began to receive the emails. Questioning in nature they asked: Was I well? Was I excited? Had I realised it was now only three days to my booked event? Next day I got a reminder and again an enquiry as to my excitement level.
Today is the day! Last night, naturally, hyped as owt, I could barely sleep, dear. The unreasonable joy of making a slight space in the garage was such that I had to restrain myself from loading the car in my pyjamas. Yes indeed, I had a car in my pyjamas, I was so beside myself and both of us were off the scale excited. I just knew as I managed to drop off to sleep again that the event organisers would be utterly stoked too.
As I stacked the car with junk this morning I had uppermost in my mind the dire warnings that colleagues would not be able to approach me to help, not even if the ten ton block of concrete I was chucking was heavyish and that I was only allowed to come on my own with absolutely no one else allowed to join in the fun, no matter how they begged. It’s a lonely road for us recyclers, I tell you. Entire quarters of an hour with no company other than a load of rubbish. Just like home, really.
Veni, vide, chuckie.
There were four recycling colleagues onsite. One to sit in a little hut ignoring the bit of printout paper you were waving, because he was struggling with four down, two to stroll off round the corner with mugs of tea and one to be texting on his mobile. The clientele, or eventgoers, were hurling with gusto, having been through all the screens until they were screening mad, just like me. I threw stuff away, drove round the site, left stuff at the charity shop, came home.
You know that feeling you get after Christmas or a pop concert that nothing nice will ever happen again?
Haven’t got it.