City Desk

DPW Picked Up My Trash Yesterday


Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's fleet has gotten a lot of mixed reviews on their performance in cleaning up after two whopper snowstorms. Most of the criticism has focused on how slow crews have been to clear side roads.

Whatever. All I can say is that the trash crews dispatched by the Department of Public Works (DPW) deserve some kind of medal from Governing magazine. Yesterday morning, just before this recent white-out, I grabbed the two black garbage bags from our green bin and set them down in a snow drift near the curb. For good measure, I set a full blue recycling bin out there as well. What the hell, I thought.

As I was arranging my garbage for maximum visibility, a neighbor called from the other side of the street. "Hey, are they collecting the garbage today." I said that's what I'd heard. He asked where I'd seen that reported, and I replied that the Washington City Paper was all over the story. A Monday blog post by Jason Cherkis carried this quote from DPW spokesperson Linda Grant: "We are collecting today."

I went to work and forgot all about my municipal Hail Mary. Upon arriving home last night, though, I couldn't believe it. The bags—gone. The recycling bin—empty. They'd nailed it, just as Grant had promised. This must be what the Washington Post was talking about when it announced the results of its recent Fenty poll, which can be abridged like this: People can't stand the guy but like the way city services are trending.

What's most impressive about DPW picking up my trash has to do with expectations. Neither I nor anyone else who got their refuse taken off their hands this week would have raised an eyebrow if DPW had issued the following statement Monday morning: "No way is DPW going to pick up an ounce of trash. We'll wait till we're good and ready to get back out there. In the meantime, use your disposal as much as possible." News outlets would have just passed along the info, and not even Don Peebles would have used it as a talking point against the administration.

Yet the DPWers slogged through the drifts and the ruts.

What happened out there in Logan Circle sometime yesterday was the hygienic equivalent of Montana-to-Rice. You're talking about a public works agency working at its maximum capacity hooking up with a household garbage and recycling manager—myself, that is—with few peers in this town.

Photo by david.packer Creative Commons Attribution License

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