Garbagemen/women of Reddit, what are some things you wish your customers knew?

  1. That Garbage collectors actually make good money. If you don’t mind the smell, you can end up making a good living picking up other people’s trash.

  2. I work an automated truck so I don’t get off and handle your trash…well at least on purpose!
    I could give you a LOT of tips but there’s 4 that I will give.

    A. If you can’t toss it into your container from 4 feet away (and make it in) put it in a bag that is tied or sealed (packing peanuts are a nightmare) If it can fly away it will fly away and into your neighbor’s yard!

    II) Cul-de-sac’s are a pain to turn around in. If it’s your garbage day, don’t park on the street (I have some people who think nothing of parking perpendicular to the curb or for the math wiz…orthogonally); also, place your containers on the curb so that we have as much room to turn here as possible (that was a two-fer)

    3: The claw squeezes the container much like the Big Gulp in your hand! Consider this when putting in your more solid, flat items. Laying a pizza box flat will hold everything underneath back from falling out. Instead, put boxes and sheet rock (and such) perpendicular to the lid so that when the truck does squeeze the can, it will actually fall out!

    and lastly) With automated systems, we play the 70’s game of Operation but our tweezers are hydraulic. Hydraulics fail!!! Container placement is VERY important. Our general guidelines are 3′ away from each other and 12′ away from vehicles.
    If the jaws of the claw decide to fling open wide it won’t knock the neighboring cans over, or into your cars, etc. This is why we ask for 3′ from each other.
    If you do (or must) park on the street place the cans on the street far away from the curb and car so the truck can reach the containers and not damage your vehicles.

    We understand that you don’t have a lot of room but a little cooperation can make a big difference in the 1,200 to 1,900 houses per day we have to take care of.
    Here is a little video of about 10 min on my day. Its time shifted to play for 30 sec. Enjoy!

  3. Not specifically a garbage man, but hauling trash is part of my job.


  4. Garbage man for 30 years here. I could write a book on this. Here’s a top 10 list.

    1) apartment building residents: have some fucking respect for the place you live. If the can closest to you is full, move on the the next one, don’t just throw it on the ground or on top of the lids. And places with “bull pens” or enclosures: don’t just toss the shit over the fence and assume it’s gonna end up in the can.

    2) the money isn’t that great unless you’re in a union or work for the city. Private haulers, at least in my area, make about the same as a dump truck driver.

    3) fuck the mail man’s motto…rain, sleet, snow, holidays, every day people throw shit away…we gotta work. I don’t see the mailman trying to pull a 3 yard container through an un-plowed alley in a foot of snow.

    4) When I was a kid it was perfectly normal to open presents Christmas morning and then head out in the truck (family business).

    5) Homeless people/drunks: don’t sleep in the dumpster. It should go without saying, but we all have our stories about guys jumping out and scaring the bejeezus out of us or ending up in the truck and almost killed.

    6) hunters: bag your kill. Nobody wants to flip the lids on a can to see a skinned deer head staring up at you.

    7) Roll off users. The top of the can is the highest the trash should go. Don’t be a fucking asshole. Everything over the top has a chance of falling off or blowing out. Imagine a 4 foot piece of sheet rock hitting a motorcyclist at 40+ mph.

    8) Garbage men are better drivers than you. They have to be. Half the day they are driving backwards down an alley at full throttle, or manuvering through downtown traffic, or squeezing through full parking lots with inches to spare. That being said, don’t be an asshole…you are a bad driver, so get the fuck out of the way and don’t call the number on the side to complain because you got scared and confused by the feats he’s performing.

    9) don’t park in front of, or right next to a container….just don’t. We pick up hundreds of those every day…waiting “2 minutes” for you to move it because you wanted to park 10 feet closer to the door fucks up our whole day…imagine if every stop was like that.

    10) everybody: please take a minute to observe how your garbage can is dumped at home and at work. Hell, watch a YouTube video if you gotta.
    Now think about that when you fill it. I have been hit in the head by tvs, cut by rusty nails, stabbed by chunks of glass and countless other avoidable injuries that could have been averted had the customer loaded the can properly.

    Thank you for your time.

    Gilded for a comment about being a garbage man! For a guy with an Oscar the Grouch tattoo, this makes me very happy. Thanks.

  5. I am not a garbage-person, but my mother always taught me to label trash bags with broken glass in them with a sharpie, or masking tape and sharpie on that if it’s a black bag. I don’t know if this was because of personal experience or not but it seems like a good idea so I still do it.

  6. Here’s one I wish my neighbor understood – my garbage collectors would be happy to pick up your tree trimmings if they’re cut down to around 4′ lengths and bundled with rope or twine.

    Super simple stuff right? Not for my neighbor. He just cut down a ton of tree limbs and stacked them up on the shared front yard between our two houses. I tried to remind him nicely when I saw him out them trimming, he said “we’ll see…” Flash forward to a month later and the giant heap of dead tree trimmings were still in our yard, and he was forced to go out there and cut and bundle all the dead and wet branches in the rain. Now there’s a nice 10 sq ft patch of dead dirt where our luscious green grass used to be. Which is great because we’re getting ready to sell our houses. Curb appeal!

    Edit: garbage not garage

  7. Don’t let hazardous chemicals and materials like wood and nails stick out of the bag that might catch the worker. They have twice the fatality rates of police officers and nearly seven times the rate of firefighters.

  8. Not currently a garbage man, but spent a few summers as one back in HS\College. Maybe it was my community, maybe it was all communities, but we picked up more than just trash. Of all the things I had to pick up, lawn clippings were the worst.

    The town handed out brown paper bags, which I guess were recyclable, and the grass and the bags would all go in at once. Not so bad. However, grass pickup was only once a month.

    What happens to a pile of grass that sits in a hot steamy pile for weeks on end in the summer? It rots\composts\ferments\pick your verb. So by the time we got to it, it was a steaming pile of goo, which had begun to eat away at the bag containing it.

    So, maybe you grab it by two hands at the top of the bag and lift, and the grass stays where it is as the bag tears. Then you have to deal with a buntcake of decomposing grass. Maybe you go to bear hug it and it all disintegrates in your arms. There were a million ways, in which any grass stop could go awfully wrong, and they all ended with you coated in rancid green dripping goo.

    So, although I’m no longer a member of the fold, if I could ask you all to do one thing, it would be to be careful with how you dispose of your grass. Please, please, please do not leave those bags at the side of the road once you’re done cutting either, they only thing that can make a bad thing worse is bags allowed to sit out and then get rained on.

  9. My neighbor is a garbage collector, he explained to me the thing that would annoy him the most are the people who don’t spread the weight of the bins out too evenly after throwing out a bunch of really dense things such as rocks or dirt. The reason for this is that he can throw out his back trying to bring a heavy bin to the loader, especially after lifting all day long. If you are doing home renovation and are throwing out large amounts of building material that is dense such as drywall try to spread the weight out among several bins or leave a piece of paper on top of the lid with a warning saying it is heavy. Also, when throwing out things that won’t fit into a garbage bin try to break it down into smaller neat bundles. This makes is easier for the garbage collector to pick up your irregularly shaped garbage by making sure it is easy to grasp and not too heavy to lift.

  10. Waste collector here. Even though the job is dirty, we are not dirty people. We take safe precautions when dealing with garbage and always wear gloves. Also we shower every so often.

  11. Finally a relevant question where I have experience!

    My father owns a ’boutique’ refuse removal company in Vermont, in a town that is small enough where the economy of scale doesn’t work out to have modern waste industry equipment (no compacting trucks, no dumpsters, no arms that pick up curb side bins). We walk up to the house where the garbage cans are, grab a load, put it in one of our modified pickup trucks and go back for more until we move to the next house. Until I moved away for college, I would do this twice a week with him from 5am-2pm. Here is what I learned:

    1. If you live in a cold area, shovel your shit and ice your sidewalk. Store your bins where snow melt won’t get into that shit, wet garbage sucks.

    2. Plzplzplz double bag compacted garbage.

    3. If the same guy picks up your garbage for 15 years, LEARN HIS FUCKING NAME.

    4. It sucks that you forgot to take your garbage out, don’t ‘hold on a sec!’ the garbage man.

    5. Finally replace your ikea bed set and have 15 identical particle board sections? Bundle them with masking tape, in reasonable groups.

    6. The garbage man might have 2 masters degrees.

    7. Google how to take care of ashes. Follow those instruction to the letter.

    8. Wet cardboard boxes are a terrible container.

    Have more, on mobile.

  12. Where do I start?

    First off, bag your fucking trash! None of us want to see or touch your kids shitty diaper, cat/dog turds, rotten food or anything else.

    Second, if you have the brains to actually use trash bags, and you just HAVE to put that last bag in the can to stuff it full, TIE THE FUCKING THING. There’s nothing worse than snatching onto a can, only to have 80% of the contents of the top bag spill out because you couldn’t figure out how to pull the drawstring of the bag.

    Third, if you use needles for medical or nefarious reasons, PLEASE do not just throw them in the trash. If you can’t help yourself or don’t have a proper sharps container, at least put them in a SEALED thick plastic container and PLEASE label it.

    Fourth, if you’re serviced by an automated truck, separate your cans! It makes our job 1000000% easier if we don’t have to get out and move the cans because you feel like putting your cans 1 inch apart for whatever reason. Also, don’t park your car in front of the trash cans, residential or commercial cans!!!

    Fifth, we are coin operated, if you want something extra taken, just flash some greenbacks in our face, we will take whatever you want!

    Sixth, have some respect for us! People love to down talk the profession, but I guarantee the people that like to bash it, wouldn’t make it to lunch on a rear loader route before they gave up.

    Seventh, OPEN YOUR EYES AND LOOK FOR US!! I know your morning commute is rough when you wake up 20 minutes late and have to speed through your neighborhood, but don’t forget about the garbage man that’s been out there working for hours. Our job constantly makes the top 10 list of most dangerous jobs just from operating the equipment, douchebag drivers that don’t pay attention to their surroundings only add to the danger.

    Eighth, don’t put any nasty chemicals in your trash because you’re too lazy/uneducated to bring it to your area’s household hazardous waste center or disposal center. I’ve had numerous co workers end up in the hospital because of noxious fumes from mixed chemicals in the truck, some could even kill you.

    There are many, MANY other things that piss us off, but this is some that popped into my head.

    Source: Been in the industry since I was a teenager, operated just about every piece of collection equipment there is in multiple states, for various companies and municipalities.

  13. I have been under the impression they don’t really give a shit as long as you don’t over pack a bag to the point of it falling apart upon being picked up and tossed into the truck. Nothing like the fifth bag of shit opening mid air and going in your face.

  14. Grocery bags (both paper and plastic) suck at holding trash. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL GODS Stop using them and get real trash bags. If you can afford to live on your own you can afford to spend like 5 bucks on a pack of decent bags once a month.


    Or so I have been told.