Election Day Trash

Yesterday was Election Day in New York. It was a pretty predictable election with no big surprises or even any close races. The taller guy won the Mayor’s race by about a 3-to–1 margin, the “unopposed” candidates for Public Advocate and my City Council district received the votes necessary to win office, and now upstate New York will have seven new beautiful casinos to complement their bucolic countryside.

Trees for a casino?

As far as blighting our urban landscape in Long Island City, Election Day brings a bunch of trash to our neighborhood. No, it’s not the trash left behind by Sunday’s New York City Marathon. In fact, our streets are impeccably clean once the runners vacate our streets. Our curbs are covered in garbage on Election Day because everyone forgets that there is no trash pickup on Election Day.

Trash on New York City Curb

Our garbage is collected on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings. On Tuesdays, the Sanitation department also picks up large items, such as furniture and appliances, and all of our paper, glass, metal, and plastic recyclables. Most everyone sets out the garbage the evening before so in most everyone’s mind, garbage day is Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. When there’s a garbage collection holiday on a Tuesday, such as Election Day or the occasional Veteran’s Day, the bags of garbage and recyclables pile up with other large items. The bags of trash and large items sit there for two whole days until Thursday morning, and the clear recycling bags remain on our street until the following week.

Part of it is likely due to habit, but it’s also due to the indifference Americans have towards Election Day. It always on falls on a Tuesday, which doesn’t strike anybody was a particular festive day of the week. Election day is also two days after reverting to standard time so most people might still be disoriented. Also, the races in this election were all but decided, making voting less urgent than in a close election. In short, Election Day is boring. It is, at best, an inconvenience and a reminder of how much we hate our elected officials and that we’ll end up in jury duty soon. It is not a day for us to celebrate.

We could learn a lot from the sanitation workers and their negotiated holiday schedule. If we treated Election Day as a true holiday, something on par with even President’s Day, when we can score a good deal on a mattress, then we’d prioritize voting. And we’d even remember to keep our damn garbage off the curb.

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