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Picking Up: On The Streets And Behind The Trucks With The Sanitation Workers Of New York City (2013)

by Robin Nagle(Favorite Author)
3.81 of 5 Votes: 5
0374299293 (ISBN13: 9780374299293)
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
review 1: Really interesting look at the history and culture of DSNY. I work for the City so I may have more interest in the subject than most people, but even with this extra awareness I was surprised at how much I take for granted. I finished reading this in between very snowy days and the plows are out in full force, along with spreaders ready to combat the elements. Finishing up the section on snow preparedness and removal was definitely good timing and made me that much more appreciative. Sanitation workers perform an essential public service, and receive far too little appreciation for it. Nagle does an excellent job of painting the history of the DSNY and street cleaning in NY, while also delving into the current culture of the Department and its workers (unsurprisingly, sinc... moree she is an anthropologist). The first hand accounts of her time in the DSNY uniform, particularly as a women, were particularly interesting.
review 2: The most dangerous job in NYC isn't cop or firefighter, it's the garbage men. Nagle, an anthropologist, was embedded for two years in the never ending War on Trash (and rats), and delivers a truly fascinating inside study of the workings and history of the vital, disgusting and high risk world of trash pickup, waste management and snow removal that keeps big cities livable. She highlights the byzantine interlockings of two unions and the city bureaucracy, the gender stresses of adding women to the workforce in the 1980s, the phenomenon of sanitation workers being invisible to people (who run them over and refuse to hear direct instructions from them), the delicate maneuverings of street sweepers, the ethnic division of Irish and Italian (to the amusement of black and Hispanic employees), what neighborhood throw away what (and the guy who seems to have the magical power to declare what he needs--air purifiers, in one case--and find them on the street days later), the collection and curating of "mongo"--reclaimed treasures from trash, the addition of GPS units to roving trucks, the Christmas blizzard of 2010 and the endless jostling of seniority to get the best routes or drive the truck rather than sling bags. I am always interested in these inside view of professions that I would never have known more about. less
Reviews (see all)
Nagle explains the history of sanitation in NYC. It's a quick read, but not always so compelling!
I am so glad this book exists. Sanitation workers are unsung heroes. RESPECT.
Just, say "hi, and thanks" to your sanitation worker. Just pay attention.
Fascinating true story about the New York Department of Sanitation.
Interesting but not exciting.
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