Love Letter #76 | The Garbage Truck Broke Down Outside my House

Dear World.

The garbage truck broke down outside my house.

I also was not sure of the direction this would take.

I went from the garbage truck to carbon footprints.


By the way, if you see me refer to the truck as the dirt truck: that’s me honouring my late grandmother who had a slight issue with the word “garbage”. So, she said “dirt truck”.

Don’t ask me why. That was just her way of identifying the truck, okay?

The breakdown was only for a brief period.

An impact was still made.

Let me tell you what happened.

A Regular Day

Prelude to garbage juice

The sanitation workers or what we like to call the “garbage men” and “garbage women” follow an almost consistent schedule of passing through my community – Suburbia – every weekend.

They are thorough and they are pleasant despite the negative associations placed on them.

The truck? It is sometimes smelly and it leaks ‘garbage juice’. However, I am forever grateful that these men and women get the job done. I respect them. I truly do.

They actually don’t get enough credit and it’s a damn shame.

Imagine, we (yes, we, the people of the world) look down on sanitation workers when in truth, they are real life superheroes.

They take out the trash and garbage from our lives – literally. Yet, they get the least amount of respect, the least amount of love.

Akin to a vigilante superhero, huh? Do all the dirty work and get little to nothing in return.

The Breakdown – A Saturday

The driver of the truck would normally alert the community by pressing on the horn like every 10 minutes or so. By the sound, we all know that we need to put the garbage out – Take the trash out. You know, play our part in the process.

We can’t expect that our sanitation workers will do everything. We have a responsibility to clear out the trash and they assist us. That’s it. Period.

Being a good citizen of Suburbia, I took the garbage and the trash out from my household well in advance of the truck’s notification.

When it reached my street, I released a sigh of relief because the superhero – sanitation workers showed up for work.

As it inched towards my gate, the garbage was taken and compacting had begun. I cringed at the thought of the garbage juice leaking out in the street like an extarctor squeezing every ounce of liquid from foods.

But that was an easy fix…once the truck pass – just through some cleaning products and wash it away.


After compacting, the truck did a buck shuffle and then shut off – right outside my front gate.

Thoughts on Garbage

The minute I realised what happened, panic set in. That happened for a number of reasons.

1. A garbage truck with garbage in it is outside my house and it was not moving.

2. Garbage juice will leak and settle outside my gate.

3. The dirt truck is smelly. My good clean air will become polluted.

4. These men and women won’t get to finish their job because a broken down truck (in the middle of almost nowhere) wont get to work. And if they’re slowed down, the garbage along their route will pile up.

And yes…. in that order – 1, 2, 3, 4.

Sigh of Relief

Turns out there was a slight electrical or mechanical problem. I have no idea, really. The driver did a one-two bang bang.

I have no idea exactly what he did but it worked.

Five minutes later, the truck restarted and they were able to carry on with their jobs.

To my surprise, there was no stench and the garbage juice was minimal.

Thank God!

Inside thoughts

But then I remember.

In the Jamaican context – the one from which I take my references – once your garbage is taken away, you forget about it.

That trash ends up in a dump. And, that dump collects and grows. c

Somebody lights a fire or products mix or overheat in the sun and combust.

Boom – more pollution.

There is no good management of said dump.

And then, while you think you’re doing your part to properly dispose of your garbage, you’re inadvertantly adding to the pollution problem.


As usual, I took some tokens from that situation.

Lessons in a Broken Down Dirt Truck

1. It is our responsibility to manage and dispose of our own trash and garbage.

Where there are people designated to assist you in the disposal of your trash – remember that they’re only available to assist.

You must do the initial work.

2. Like part of the features of the garbage truck, compacting your garbage does just that – but only that – compact.

If you don’t service the compacting vessel, your garbage will sit at the front of your house. And it’ll leak garbage juice, and it will reek.

Now, I know that in my story the servicing of the compacting vessel was not my responsibility. I know. Just focus on the principle behind it, please.


3. Don’t take for granted the folks who help you to dispose of your trash. Though you put a great deal of work in packaging, they will help you to take it out and get rid of it.

Like the sanitation workers – you have friends, family, sometimes you have strangers and other times you only have yourself.

Learn to show appreciate to all those people – especially in times when they help out with your trash.

Appreciated people will put the work in to have their job done well with a bit of extra. You know, they’ll ensure the truck gets serviced and be in tip top shape.

4. Package –> Pre/dispose –> Compact –> Dispose –> Clean

Garbage trucks smell beacuse of the fusion of waste that goes in them. They’re not cleaned as often as they should be and if they are cleaned frequently, it’s not a proper clean.

Never. And, I mean never allow yourself or the vessel you use to dispose of your figurative garbage to stay filthy.

Clean the actual garbage vessels too.

It’ll make you unattractive. You will lose pride in yourself. Your image will also become tainted. Who likes a dirty person? Not I.

Always remember to clean after you compact and dispose. This should be part of your daily routine, in all honesty.

5. Be mindful of the products you use to impact your way of life and be mindful of the people you allow to have influence in your life.

Even if you don’t do away with the entire product or the whole person, they still impact your environment (whether positively or negatively).

Think about it.

6. The obvious lessons here:

– Refuse, Reuse and Recycle.

– Do away with single use plastics as much as you can.

– Bring your own bag to the supermarket or the corner shop or wherever else you purchase goods. #BYOB

– Compost

– Recycle plastic bottles

– Separate your garbage and identify businesses that will take your plastics, your glass and your cardboards.

– Eduacate the ignorant on what they can do to reduce their carbon footprint.

Signed with clean love,

The Suburban Girl


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