Monday, December 12, 2022
Partly cloudy. High 40 degrees.
Our calendar has lots of local events! Click on the link or the lady in the upper righthand corner.
Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal and City Council Member Gale Brewer are holding a West Side Cannabis Town Hall with representatives from the New York State Office of Cannabis Management, the New York Police Department, the Manhattan District Attorney, New York City’s Departments of Consumer and Worker Protection and Small Business Services, and Community Boards 4 and 7.
- Cannabis Town Hall
Tuesday, December 13, 2022
6 – 8 pm (doors at 5:30 pm)
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
524 W. 59th Street entrance (between 10th and 11th Ave.)
The event will be hybrid, i.e. both in-person and on Zoom. RSVP for either attendance method at the link, or use Bit.ly/WSCannabisTH
By Bob Tannenhauser
The New York Police Department is the city’s Finest, the Fire Department its Bravest – but I’m betting that, like me, you were unaware of which group of the city’s employees are known as New York’s Strongest.
That’s the nickname given several decades ago to the city Sanitation Department’s football team. It was meant to be a morale booster and to honor a group of employees that gets far less attention – and, undeservedly, less respect – than police or firefighters.
I learned about that after a fascinating encounter with two of the city’s Strongest last Wednesday. It was late afternoon and I was in my car driving north on Amsterdam Avenue. As I turned from Amsterdam onto 82nd Street, heading toward Central Park West, I was confronted by one of those behemoth, backloading Department of Sanitation garbage trucks. I felt familiar dismay as I looked into those cavernous jaws that chew and crush and compact our trash.
The city has more than 2,000 of them, used to collect an astonishing 12,000 tons of trash every single day (average daily collections in fiscal 2022 for Manhattan District 7, comprising Manhattan Valley, the Upper West Side and Lincoln Square, is approximately 267 tons). I know we need those trucks and the Strongest who work on them. But right there on 82nd Street, all I was thinking about was how this filthy whale of a truck in the middle of the street, flanked by parked cars on either side, was making it impossible for me to drive down the road.
As a lifelong New Yorker, in a hurry, my first reaction of frustration quickly turned to, “How can I avoid being trapped?” Answer: I couldn’t. Other cars were already lined up behind me. All I could do was settle in and fume. But eventually I began to watch the scene ahead of me with fascination, as the two-man sanitation crew did their work of picking up our garbage, our recycling and the furniture and other large items we dispose of without giving much thought to what happens to them.
Wednesday was a recycling day, so there were more items to cart away from this street of brownstones, each with its pile of trash, as well as some larger buildings. The driver would slowly advance the vehicle about 15 feet, stop, and dash to the sidewalk on the north side of the street to collect 10-15 heavy trash bags, small items of furniture and other unidentifiable objects. Each time, he had to maneuver between the parked cars to reach the back of the truck and toss the bags. His partner did the same routine on the south side of the street. The partner would then pull the lever to compact the trash and push it toward the front of the truck, making room for the next load.
The two men didn’t really talk with each other, but they worked in unison, playing out a routine that appeared choreographed to enable them to collect every bit of trash as expeditiously as possible. Collect, compact, drive ahead another 15 feet, then do it all again. I marveled at the speed at which they were working, and I wondered how so much trash could actually fit in the truck. I was so caught up that I lost track of the time until I looked at my watch and realized it took me half an hour to go two blocks, even though the sanitation workers were working at breakneck speed.
The DSNY is the world’s largest sanitation department. In addition to collecting our trash and recycling, the agency is in charge of snow removal and cleaning the city’s 6,300 miles of streets. The base salary for sanitation workers after five years on the job, is $83,645, roughly equivalent to the NYPD and FDNY. Those two sanitation workers I watched last week certainly showed why they – like police and firefighters – deserve an honorable nickname: New York’s Strongest.