My faithful blog readers undoubtedly believe that I have a crush on Rome’s trash squad, and you may be right! First, the trash collectors wear fabulous neon uniforms. Second, they take pride in their work, and any trash in Rome’s Centro Storico is picked up in seconds! Third, they drive the cutest trash trucks. Fourth, most of them, both men and women, are extremely fit. Fifth, they’re always cheerful. But the sixth, and most important, trait is they do good deeds.
A small, beautiful country without much room for vast tracts of trash, Italy recycles with a vengeance. We like this and participate. In Italy, however, you can’t count on trash collection, or many other things, being quite the same today as it was yesterday or will be tomorrow.
When we first arrived in Rome, we had two trash receptacles at the top of the stairs leading to our apartment building: one for organic materials and one for nonrecyclable materials. Just down the street about half a block were four dumpsters: two for plastic, glass, and metal recycling, and two for paper recycling. We’d haul our recyclables to those dumpsters every other day or so. Then about a month ago, a sign was posted at our apartment entry saying that the dumpsters would be taken away, and we had to carry our recyclables a couple of blocks to a spot on Via Giulia, the street right behind our house, or four blocks to Piazza Farnese. We had to put all of our plastic, glass, and metal recycling in a specific blue bag and drop it off between 8:30 and 10:30 Tuesdays and Fridays. Our paper recycling had to be placed in a specific white bag, and we could drop it off between 8:30 and 10:30 Wednesdays and Saturdays. [We only knew this because we took a photo of the sign and used Google translate to figure out what it said.]
That’s fine, and we have plenty of trash bags in our house. The bags are quite large and don’t fit in our small kitchen, but we just store them in the powder room until the appropriate day. BUT the trash trucks are almost never on Via Giulia during their scheduled times, so I usually have to walk to Piazza Farnese to dump my recyclables. That’s okay for paper, but the plastic, glass, and metal bag is heavy (lots of wine bottles!) and more of a struggle.
Tuesday I set off to dump a fairly heavy bag of plastic, glass, and metal recycling, but there was no truck on Via Giulia (why wasn’t I surprised!). So I began walking up the hill to Piazza Farnese. As I reached the top, a somewhat large trash truck turned the corner in front of me. The driver looked at me and stopped the truck, motioning for me to drop the bag into the back. I couldn’t believe it, but I hoisted the bag up to drop it in. I’m no longer 5’8” (darn!), having lost two inches two years ago, so I was having trouble reaching the edge of the truck. Just as I finally got the bag to the top and pushed it in, the trash collector started to get out of his truck to help me! I nearly passed out from shock! “Grazie,” I said with a big smile, “Prego,” he said with a big smile, and I probably didn’t stop smiling for the next half hour.