The City I Wish Care Would Remember


Maybe I’m just getting old – after all, I am now (as of last Thursday) 41, making me not just 40 but officially in my 40s – but I had no interest in attending the trash parade this past weekend.

Don’t get me wrong: I applaud the spirit of those who organized and participated in it. But these days, I’d happily sacrifice a bit of New Orleans’ trademark whimsy for some actual functionality.

Let me also be clear that I understand that the trash situation doesn’t have an easy solution and that I 100 percent support honoring the basic demands of the hoppers for a living wage, hazard pay, PPE, etc. I don’t think this is the fault of any one person – but I do think it’s a crisis, and asking us last week to drive our own trash across town in our own vehicles was not a practical solution.

Our trash bin was full before the storm because the service had been unreliable, meaning we had to put all of our gross refrigerator bags on the curb. When the trash service came by post-Ida, they picked up the bin but left the bags (which makes sense because they had no way to verify that the bags weren’t storm debris, I guess). So then we threw all of the bags that were left on the curb into the bin, maggots falling off of them as we did so. Now the bin is full again and no one has come back, so there is a growing mountain of hot wet rotting garbage in front of my house because we have nowhere else to throw it.

It really makes me wonder why I live here when I have to set down a bag of trash in my living room so that I can use both hands and a butter knife to wrench open my humidity-swollen front door only to walk out on to my porch and throw the bag on the reeking trash pile that I have no expectation will disappear any time soon.

We try to be environmentally conscious consumers in my house. In our family of four, we use refillable water bottles and reusable mesh Keurig pods and we compost. We don’t use paper plates or plastic silverware or disposable straws. We have reusable grocery bags, and back when my kids were younger, we even did cloth diapers! And when recycling is available, we recycle everything: soup cans, milk cartons, shampoo bottles.

That said, recycling is indefinitely suspended, and even with all of the steps we are taking, the trash situation is getting ridiculous and disgusting.

I still love it here, but for so long, I’ve just taken so much in stride. Yes, the crime is terrible and the schools are a confusing mess and the cost of living is out of control and no one can drive and every hurricane season is stressful, but that’s just how it is, right? So much of my reaction to this city is the old parental standby – “I’m not mad; I’m just disappointed.”

Now though? Now I’m mad. I’m not sighing and wringing my hands; I want to ground this city, take away its electronics privileges and the car keys, make it do extra chores and meet an earlier curfew until it earns my trust back.

Is anyone else at a breaking point right now? Or am I just, as I said, getting too old?




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