The Sanitation Cops have pretty much the same authority as any other cops including the authority to issue citations, make arrests, and to be armed. They are authorized the use of deadly force! OK, they're not allowed to just run around shooting people any more than any other cop, but still!
More often than not, they're driving around a block or two ahead of the streetsweepers ticketing cars that haven't moved. But they also run around looking for people who aren't recycling properly -- I know that my neighbor on one side (the good one), got a $50 ticket because school kids threw empty soda cans in his trash sometime between the time he had put his trash out at the curb and the time the garbage trucks showed up to collect it.
And you may recall that I had issues with neighborhood hooligans (hey, when you get chance to call someone a hooligan, you should take it!) had set fire to our trash cans twice in one month. Being concerned about my trash cans burning down does not count as an obsession. (My threat to put out a surveillance camera might have been edging into that territory, but I got over it.)
Anyway, people on my block are supposed to put out trash and recycling on Thursday nights. So, last night, I go out to put our two trash cans, one bottles/metal recycling can, and one paper recycling can out at the curb. Earlier in the day, I had taken a bag of trash out from the kitchen, and, at that time, none of our cans were more than half full. When I went out in the evening, all four cans were overflowing. And when I looked a little closer, I realized that it was all a really nasty mess of trash, bottles and paper all mixed together.
So, like a dutiful resident (who didn't want a $50 ticket for each bag of mixed stuff), I started separating everything. Yes, I was pissed off. And as I'm separating everything, I discover mail addressed to the 4th floor tenant next door! Of course, after I finished dealing with the shit-piles, I presented the evidence to the owner next door. She said she'd speak to her tenant, but even knowing that was probably as much as I could expect, it wasn't really terribly satisfying. (Is it really asking too much to want her to go out, apply for a gun permit, get turned down, get a new job in a "high-risk" field, re-apply, get her permit, go buy a pistol, spend time on the shooting range getting used to the thing, and then going upstairs in her building to give her tenant a real talking to? I don't think so!)
So, then, this morning, I looked out the window again (before any stuff had been collected), and sure enough, there's more crap out there, all of it completely mixed up and tossed into any damned can. I was a little less conscientious about separating the stuff this time around, but I did move it to the cans where most of the contents belonged.
So far, our trash and paper recycling have been picked up without incident. The bottles and cans are still awaiting their destiny. There's at least one bag out there that could still get me a ticket. I'm actually hoping I get one so I can take it next door and give it to them.
And just to reiterate how I really, really, really don't have an obsession with garbage -- it's not that I mind following the the Dept. of Sanitation rules, it's that I hate having to deal with my neighbor's nasty shit. Next week, if I find stuff that I don't think came from our building, I'm going through the bags again -- and if I find evidence, I'm dumping it all back on their front porch. See? That's not the least bit obsessive.
Chant with me now. "Attica! Attica! Attica!"