Every Tuesday morning, around 5 a.m., ominous curbside noises emanating from a Jersey City garbage removal truck remind me of my intended plans to write a novel about the life of a North Jersey garbageman, as his life unfolds on the streets of an under-funded Northeast city.
It would begin: “Joe lived in Kearny. In the early ’90s, he lived in his parent’s backyard in a one of those pop-up VW vans called a Westfalia. The van served more as a bedroom than transportation, and in his spare time, he played the bass guitar in a local college band that mixed hardcore and funk in the vein of 24-7 Spyz. The band lasted two years — the Westfalia van, seven.”
And then I usually fall back asleep, as the noise of the visiting garbage truck decreases into the early morning remainder of Second, and then Third, streets.
Upon waking, I typically rehash the idea over repeats of The Sopranos on A&E, thinking to myself that waste management couldn’t possibly have been (or remains) a typically cut-and-dry “do the job no matter what it takes” type of operation; that there just has to be some element of wise ass employees and nonsensicality attached to the idea of picking up and disposing of another person’s trash, far beyond the little respite offered by Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen in the 1993 film “Men at Work.”
The novel continues: “Joe has never found any dead bodies in oil drums on his route, or been forced to ride with managers that refuse to share french fries and hate rent-a-cops. He just does the job to pay his rent and hopes one day to move from the back of the truck to the driver’s cab, listening to Howard Stern on Sirius, drinking hot coffee from the imitation 7-Eleven on Newark Ave.”
And then I just think that a guy wanting to move from the back of a garbage truck to the front in North Jersey is probably best left for those intermediately dazed thoughts upon waking and drifting back into sleep. He can keep the van, and his dreams of playing bass in a college rock band alive, but his imagined dream of advancement at work will forever die with me around 5:20 a.m. every Tuesday morning.