Speaking of District alleys, the one in back of my house is a big part of my life. I've lived next to this rat-infested third-world-esque beauty for close to 4 years. Every Tuesday and Friday morning, the Department of Public Works trash collection comes by to pick up what I no longer need. Being an easily amused sort, this process has offered some wonders. Here're some mistakes and assumptions I've made concerning trash pick up:
1. 2002: I move in and go to IKEA and IKEA stuff produces trash bigger than can fit into my DC-given green tub.
LESSON: I learn straight away that placing excess trash neatly in bags next to the green container is NOT GOOD ENOUGH. All trash must fit inside a trash bag inside the green container before it is good enough to be taken.
2. 2002: I have a housewarming party and throw away some foodstuffs. My next trip to the can has me in a tete-a-tete with my first rat; it flies like a bat from the trash into the air and I swear it hisses at me, but I can't be sure because the hissing was drowned out by my own screaming.
LESSON: I learn to toss the bags into the green abyss from a few feet away after I've stomped my feet and shaken my keys vigorously.
3. 2003: I rush outside one early Friday morning to get the trash into the bin before they come. I make it in time to witness the collector pick up the bin, shake it, and then shrug his shoulders and throw the whole container into the truck.
LESSON: I learn to keep the DC Public Works phone number on hand to order new bins about twice/month. I marvel at the efficiency.
4. 2004: On many subsequent viewings of the pick-up process, I watch the collectors drop cans and leave strewn trash all over the alley. I see them break bottles and run over canteloupes and make no effort whatsoever to remedy the mess, often leaving the alley in worse shape than it was before the pick-up happened.
LESSON: I learn to keep my own bags air-tight, and about once/week go out and hand-clean the broken glass so as to avoid already frequent flat tires (I also drive in this alley daily).
5. 2005: I receive a $75 ticket in the mail, photo of my trash included, for not firmly placing the lid onto my green bucket.
LESSON: I learn to laugh hysterically and prominently display said photo in my home as an ode to irony (see #4).
6. 2006: The handy recyclable containers that can be placed on the back porch and easily filled with proper materials are replaced with huge blue bins that are not at all convenient. Even though they are placed outside every Friday, no one takes them away for weeks, causing me to begrudgingly have to lift the same heavy bottle-ridden mess 4 times.
LESSON: I learn that a membership to Sports Club/LA isn't necessary when you can build the pythons by carrying trash. Maybe they'll even help with the rodent problem.