Saturday, January 07, 2006

Laws Everyone Ignores are Worse than Useless...

One of the joys (to me, at least) of high rise living is the garbage chute. When I used to live in a 5 unit condominium our building rented a single dumpster and the City used to empty it once a week, on every Wednesday. Why do I know that they emptied it on Wednesday? Because it used to get so full every week that you would store non-stinky garbage (boxes, packages, newspaper) in your unit and then rush down as soon as the dumpster was emptied in order to fill it right back up again. More than once I even climbed into the dumpster and stomped it down for additional space (a lovely job).

The garbage chute is a joy because you can always throw your garbage out. You don't have to wait until a certain day of the week to throw out your garbage, and the fact that it is right down the hall makes it easy in that you don't have to trudge outside in the snow. Plus, when any kids come over, I tell them that if they are very good I will let them help me throw something down the chute, which they find endlessly amusing (no chutes in Naperville!)

However, every time I put something down the chute, this is the sign at eye level that is staring me in the face.

Note the key line "Nothing should be compressed and forced down the chute".

Invariably, however, everything that I am putting down the chute needs to be compressed in order for it to fit through the chute. The chute door is too small to fit a standard kitchen size garbage bag, much less a pizza box or anything like that. Thus I am basically "breaking the law" a few times a week when I am stuffing my garbage down the chute.

It usually looks something like this.. right before I "compress" it and stuff it down the chute!

On a related note (bear with me here), over the holidays I was driving down the Eisenhower (I-290) east out to the suburbs. It was a holiday so there was hardly any traffic and everyone was going about 70 miles / hour, which is the minimum speed of I-290 if there isn't any traffic (unless you want to get run off the road like Jethro in the Beverly Hillbillies).

I was merrily driving along with traffic when I spied a police car driving 55 mph in the right lane. I did what everyone does in this situation; I immediately slammed on my brakes and drove 55 mph, too.

That sounds like it is just an inconvienience but in fact it is extremely dangerous. In my rear view mirror I could see cars hurtling towards me assuming I was some old lady or something like that but then they would immediately slam on their brakes as soon as they noticed the police car, which made for a disconcerting site.

Soon there was a big pack of cars clumped up in the freeway like a big hairball in the sink. Then the inevitable happened, everyone started inching forward at 57, 58, 59, or 60 mph, just fast enough to slooooowly pass by the cop but not enough to incite the policeman to pull you over. As soon as the policeman was far enough in back, then you turn on the afterburners and hurl down the freeway at 80+ mph, since you have to make up for "lost time" doing the speed limit.

So what did that accomplish? By setting the speed limit low, and then even having the policeman drive at that insipd speed just to punish us all, nothing was accomplished except to almost cause 50 cars to rear end each other as they slammed on their brakes to avoid a traffic jam.

Just like the chute telling me NOT to "compress" anything when it is patently obvious that you have to stuff EVERYTHING down, putting up a 55 mph sign when that is such a low speed that it is ignored every day (unless there is traffic gridlock) just causes enforcement problems and disrespect for the law with no actual gain to society.

On a semi-related topic (to me, at least), this is what happened in the former Soviet Union. Virtually everything related to business or barter was illegal, but everyone had to break the law in order to get by (to purchase decent food, medical care, a car, etc...). Thus everyone was essentially breaking the law all the time, and since everyone was breaking laws all day, there became less and less respect for the IMPORTANT laws, such as the whole "thou shalt not kill" types of laws. I think that is why many contract disputes today in Russia are settled via a violent death instead of through their court system.


Dan from Madison said...

I find it odd that the chute has "hours" posted. It it in the chute's union contract?

Carl from Chicago said...

Ha ha I like that... no I think it is because there are units right by the chute and they don't want to be awakened at night by the sound of garbage and bottles clanking down the chute. Kind of like getting a hotel room right by the icemaker...

Anonymous said...

One suggestion is to try to use smaller bags. You'll make more trips, but you'll help out by not possibly clogging the chute.
I'm getting into this industry abroad and would like to know if you have any further complaints? Do the doors get locked out if others on different floors are using the chute? If not do you have bags from above flying by you? Is there a smell at all? How many floors is your building? Hope you check this.

Carl from Chicago said...

Um... some of the units near the chute in our building complain about a smell. Apparently the ventilation was done incorrectly but they fixed it. Never had any bags fly by me but our building isn't very dense. In fact I have been in buildings with a chute for years and never been hit. Our building is between 20-30 floors.

And I'll keep stuffin' em' until someone complains