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Coronavirus (22): Spring Cleaning (Or Three Cheers for Sanitation Workers!)

In July 2019, I was still clearing up the last 50 boxes of over 250 boxes of papers and other items that had been packed by a professional cleaning service in the days after October 10, 2013---when a fire, which nearly consumed our apartment and took our precious lives, was extinguished by the heroic efforts of the FDNY.

Yes, my sister and I grieved for all the treasures that we lost---gifts from our parents that could never be replaced, and objects of great sentimental value. But we count our blessings that we were alive to grieve those losses! I also counted my blessings that, after six years of reorganizing my entire file system, restructuring my entire library, I finally completed the task of going through those 50 boxes last July. I generated over 25 bags of recyclable paper each week for four straight weeks, and was in touch with the Sanitation Department workers at the B11 Sanitation Garage, which services the neighborhoods in South Brooklyn (Bath Beach, Bensonhurst, and my very own beloved Gravesend), to give them a heads-up that they should expect a large haul from our address. Each week, I came to expect the best service from these guys, who break their butts day-in, day-out to keep our streets clean.

During this Coronavirus crisis in NYC, I haven't heard a single public official give a shout out to the "essential workers" of the Sanitation Department who face great personal risk every day, picking up garbage from every neighborhood in the city. I had the occasion to call BK11 last night, before they picked up our garbage in the wee hours of Friday morning, and the supervisor was informed that they should expect yet another large haul from our address. Indeed, we've been doing a little spring cleaning.

As the worker on the phone told me: "Everybody is home and it seems that everybody is doing spring cleaning at the same time! So I don't know how much we can handle, but we'll do our best." He expressed frustration over the fact that his coworkers were among the "unsung heroes" during this crisis in our city, and I couldn't agree with him more. I told him that I'd be proud to give them a shout-out on my blog, and he told me, "I don't do social media." I told him, "Well, I do, and I will be happy to express my appreciation to you guys for all the hard work you do." He chuckled, before hanging up, and said: "Well, hold off on that buddy... let's see if they pick up your garbage. But I'll inform the supervisor!"

When I awoke this morning, all of the recyclables and regular household garbage had been picked up, and I just smiled.

So, this is not a post filled with statistics or political theorizing. It is a simple expression of gratitude to the folks who continue to haul our trash away, twice a week, during a time when cleanliness is next to godliness.

Thanks guys!