The other day I chased after a garbage truck dressed in my pajamas. What it was doing in my pajamas I’ll never know.
Recently a garbage truck went rolling up my street collecting the block’s trash uncustomarily early. I was working on my first cup of coffee when I saw a Teddy Bear lashed proudly to the front of a truck roll past my windows. I nearly spit out the coffee; grabbed my camera and dashed out the door clad only in pajamas and slippers. I had to capture this image in pixels for this was a very fine example of that urban phenomena that I refer to as Truck Mascots. This was a prototypical example, in fact. A garbage man or sanitation engineer or whatever they are calling themselves find a discarded stuffed animal on their routes and lash it to the grill of their truck for luck or bemusement. There is no more of a typical stuffed animal than a Teddy Bear!
The bear wasn’t lashed to the grill, but was tied to the truck’s snow plow mount instead. (Trash trucks double as snow plows when the need arises in Philly.) It’s a slight variation, but I would still consider this an archetypal example.
The truck’s driver appreciated my excitement for his mascot, and we exchanged some warm words on that bitterly cold morning. Thanks, municipal employee! You made my day!
Joe: Great report! The Teddy Bear looks quite robust! Often, the stuffed animals are tied together – 3 and 4 with barely enough filler for one critter. At least they are out in the fresh air amongst friends. The world of garbage has always had a special place in my heart or brain. Growing up in Waccabuc, NY, we put our trash in paper bags into a hole in the earth by opening the round metal cover with a foot pedal. Not sure who picked it up, tho.’ We used to walk through the woods, in the middle of nowhere, and find little piles of remains in areas where people had dumped stuff – organic matter was long gone, but occasionally there were old glass bottles which had turned purple in the sun. When I lived on tiny Quince Street in Philly, there was a pint-sized garbage truck that just fit on the one-way street. In the late 70’s, you could put waste that was suitable for pigs in a metal can and a NJ farmer would come and pick it up. I lived in a 3-story apartment building in Bronxville, NY, while in high school. All trash went from a chute in our kitchen directly to a fire in the basement. Kind of exciting! Now in New Canaan, CT, I take everything to the transfer station – separating garbage from paper from bottles/cans from metal. You should see what people here throw into the metal dumpster. My first day there, I tried to fish something out. The man on duty pointed kind of angrily to the sign: “No Scavenging.” No fuzzy Teddy Bears in the dump that day!
Wow! Thanks for talking trash, Tina! It’s nice to know that I didn’t freeze my butt off taking this shot for nothing!
I was intrigued the moment you gagged on your coffee when a toy bear happened to cruise by, at cruising altitude, your otherwise normal window in an otherwise normal neighborhood. Garbage ensued.