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We have almost as many euphemisms for garbage as we do for death. You can call it litter if you want to. The National Park is very big on litter, as in “Don’t Litter!” That means don’t drop your garbage on the ground and leave it. If you’re English, you can call it dust. A dust-bin is a garbage can in England. You can call it refuse, but in print it looks odd. You can also call it rubbish, but that’s now a little old fashioned. Trash is also good. Unless you burn the paper, the chances are excellent that it will end up as 100 percent trash or garbage, to put it bluntly, and it will then be taken to the Solid Waste Transfer Site. That’s our euphemism for garbage dump. [No longer, of course. We recycle.]
Maybe it has something to do with the people who work there. Maybe they would rather tell people they work at the Solid Waste Transfer Site than the garbage dump.
Garbage has always been a problem up here. You can read something about it on the front page almost every week, although it’s called solid waste.
Years ago, when we came up only in the summer, we took our garbage about a hundred feet from the house, dropped it on the ground and left it. When it piled up we dropped some tree limbs over it to hide it. Try that today and you’ll wind up in court. In fact, that old dump is still there, and one of these years I’m going to bring in a bulldozer and bury what remains of the old tin cans and glass bottles. We were pretty dumb about garbage in those days.
Now we have the “Green Boxes” (although some of them are brown) at Solid Waste Transfer Sites. At the one I use, I pay $8 a month for the privilege of bringing 10 30-gallon trash (they slipped on that one. Should have been “solid waste”) bags, or not more than two cubic yards of refuse (same mistake) to the Transfer Site.
I’d like to know who decided to call garbage Solid Waste and dumps Transfer Sites. I’ll bet he never saw a garbage dump in his life. I feel sorry for our children, growing up thinking garbage is Solid Waste.
Garbage has a nice, clean, honest feel about it, but Solid Waste is like something you wouldn’t want to get your hands on.
Well, I suppose we’re stuck with it. You can’t fight City Hall or the Public Works Department. Still, when Mary L. asks me where I’m going, I don’t think I’m going to tell her I’m going to the Solid Waste Transfer Site.
© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner
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