Friday, October 7, 2011

October 7, 2011, Paris almost sparkles!

My French relations, including my wife, Colette, do not understand my fascination with the City of Paris sanitation services.  This blog will take time to develop because I hope to include pictures of the different activities. 

Our apartment is on the first floor (one floor up from the ground floor, le rez-de-chausee) (sorry, my laptop does not do accents) so we have a good view of what passes on the street.

The City of Paris sanitation services operate 7 days a week, all day and sometimes late into the night.  However, lets take it from the early morning.  About 6:15 AM the first heavy truck makes it way past our apartment and, regrettably, I do not know what it does because by the time I fall out of bed, find slippers, it has past our building.  But shortly thereafter the sidewalk crew comes by.  This is a small tank truck with a driver and on either the left-hand or right-hand side, a man with a long wand washes the sidewalk and the water sweeps dog poo, papers, leaves et al into the gutter.  He has tomake too trips, about 30 minutes apart.  I imagine he does the full length of rue de N.D. deNazareth, the makes a U-turn on Blvd. de Saint-Martin, almost a mile west, anprobably returns on Blvd Saint-Martin Meslay, the switches side of the street.

The next person is the gutter sweeper.  He, like all the saniation employees, is uniformed in a dark green coverall with a yellow vest, and a matching green broom.  In times past each neighborhood had its gutter sweeper and they were part of the scenery.  Colette's sister, chatlaine of the family chateau in a really small town in the east of France.

 (Courcelles/Aubreville/Meuse) and thus to the manor born, was vastly amused by the fact that she and the neighborhood sweeper were on daily speaking terms as she progressed down the sidewalk to market and he cleaned the gutter.  They exchanged views on the state of the world, the young people, and the problems of keeping Paris neat and tidy.

Now the gutter sweepers are rotated so it is a different one daily.  His job is to turn on the water at the fire hydrants to flood the gutters and sweep the debris into the drains. The sweeper in this picture is working at a major intersection and if you look closely you will see he has vertical cart that has a ring with a clear green plastic sack into which he is dumping items that cannot be swept into the street drainage system.

Several years ago terrorist would put hand grenade-type explosives with timers in the fixed, metal sided sidewalk trash cans.  When they exploded the trash can fragmented and the trash can pieces caused death and serious injuries to anyone nearby.  The City of Paris' Sanitation Department response was to remove the metal sidewalk trash cans and replace them with short metal posts fixed in the sidewalk with a ring at the top.  The clear green plastic sacks would reveal the presence of unwanted or threatening items plus are lightweight and easily closed, lifted out and replace.  An environmental note here, a second sack in its own ring has been added, and the clear yellow sack is labeled "Recycle."

In the courtyard of our building (now dated as 18th C) there are three types of garbage cans, one for recycle (tins, plastic, paper) one for garbage and one with a special round hole in the middle of the lid for bottles.  Disposing of bottles in Paris is schedule twice weekly and has its own truck.  The truck, like the trucks for the other two types of garbage have double lifts at the back.  They usually come by in mid-afternoon, Tuesday and, I think, Friday.  There is a driver and one helper.  The truck stops for the garbage cans on the side of the road, the driver hops out, and he takes one side of the road and the helper takes the other side.  The garbage cans always seem to be full with bottle, and they are pushed out to the truck, engaged in the lift system, the driver, I think, pushes the button and the plastic cans are lifted into the air, turned upside down, and the bottles drop into the truck.  The sound of breaking glass fills the air with it own music.

The next challenge is copy my pictures of this activity from my Microsoft Picture program however this is proving to be more of problem than I had anticipated.  The next picture will be of the public bottle disposer sites located on an attractivde corner of the Square du Temple.

Tuesday afternoons the bottle truck comes to our neighborhood.  It is exactly like the garbage truck except it pick up only the plastic cans with the special top for bottles.  The picture also illustrates what happens when a large wide truck moves slowly, with intermitent stops, up a narrow heavily travelled street.  Traffic comes to  a complete stop, and horns are honked to now avail.
This is the bird's eye view of our evening trash pickup.  The trucks have two different color schemes, one off white, the other dark and almost lime green.  The trucks are kept clean and the mean wear dark green coveralls with lime green safety jackets.  You can see the back of the truck, the green square can in the lift, and one of the team members.  Occasionally the driver will hop out and help and the team work is remarkable.

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