Like millions of Americans, we have always enjoyed watching Mike Rowe in the TV show “Dirty Jobs.”

In each episode the host visits work sites across the country, where he meets the men and women who perform tasks that most people would consider difficult, dangerous, disgusting, or a combination of the three.

Collecting residential trash falls into the latter category. The job is physically demanding and there most certainly is an element of risk involved. And rubbish by its nature is fairly nasty.

Employees of municipal waste disposal companies like Burgmeier’s Hauling in Cumberland are exposed to all types of weather, from the subzero temperatures of winter to the hot, humid days of summer. They work in rain, snow and wind. They must get on and off the trucks over and over again during a shift and watch for impatient motorists who get too close or pass in an unsafe manner. 

The way in which residents put out their trash also poses a problem for crews. We have seen some repulsive refuse beside the curb awaiting pickup. Greasy pizza boxes piled 10 high to possibly topple into the street. Cracked plastic barrels filled to the brim with beer bottles and cigarette butts. Others packed with kitchen garbage like banana peels, egg shells and coffee grounds. A heap of various fast-food bags, some ripped open by a raccoon or other varmint, spilling their foul contents onto the grassy strip between the sidewalk and pavement.

We’ve spied old stained pillows and scraps from home improvement projects, like chunks of crumbling padding and gross carpeting. Empty soda cubes spilling bathroom trash, like toilet paper tubes and used personal hygiene products. Dirty diapers packed into torn market bags. Hopefully, extra care is taken by those who must dispose of used syringes.

We’re sure the trash collectors have plenty of tales to tell.

The mayor and City Council recently made it mandatory to place all trash in plastic bags, even if it’s in a garbage can or barrel. We applaud that decision and would add, what took them so long?

It seems like a no-brainer, and of course some folks will pay no attention to the edict, no more than they will wear face coverings to try to keep fellow citizens from getting sick. We think not properly preparing trash for disposal is disrespectful to the workers, not to mention a direct threat to their health. Gloves help, but frequent use of hand sanitizer or soap isn’t possible when stopping at hundreds of homes a day. Before setting out your trash, imagine your son or daughter on that truck picking it up the next day.

The sanitation workers are providing an essential service, a crucial function, for without them, all of the detritus of our daily lives would accumulate and fester, breeding maggots and sounding a dinner bell for vermin.

We often oppose new rules and regulations, but in this case we wholeheartedly support the new city ordinance.

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