For weeks now I have observed the street clean-up workers on a daily basis. They arrive in little green trucks with bright green jumpsuits, with brooms that resemble Halloween witches broomsticks - the bristles are bright green too. Their job as I have seen it is to flood the gutter and sweep all the litter and refuse in the raging water to the drains or if the stuff is large, into the garbage. Since the water only rages down the gutter, I wonder how the trash in the middle of the street knows to wiggle on over, because I have never seen them use the broom anywhere but in the flooding gutters?
There are mountains of litter on the street each day. First you have tons of cigarette butts - because with 12 out of 10 smokers chain smoking, and no public ashtrays, where else would you put a used butt? Hopefully not in the trash, if you can find one.
Next are the tons and tons of confetti-like Metro tickets. Many people seem to buy daily passes instead of the weekly one and dispose of them when they exit the Metro. The typical place to lighten the load from the weighty little ticket is at the top of the stairs just the tiniest little bit touching the street. Not on the stairs for the most part, and not in the Metro stations for the most part too. Those tickets get tossed on the street where they will see the underside of the green broom sometime that day. A street garbage container is always behind the Metro stairs, not at the top of the stairs, so you would have to, say, walk fifteen steps all together to toss it in the trash.
Also, lunch leaves some interesting litter around. Not just around the eateries, but all over. It is L&P's favorite time to go outside -after lunch. Morning time may see some croissant crumbs or bag or two from famous McDo's, but the after lunch sidewalk buffet is their favorite hour. There you can find sandwich leftovers, drinks, usually cold drinks. You won't find tons of paper cups like from Starbucks because the French are civilized about how they drink coffee and it is a serious business, at a cafe in real cups. And really there is very little food littered about. The French are serious about their food too, and do not waste a thing. If there is food litter, it accidentally fell to the ground.
And then there is all the rest of the stuff. I've seen a bit of clothing, rags, paper, maps, bolts, nails, a bra, lots of booze bottles, and miscellaneous trash. Each block is flooded from an individual spout, so the mountain of trash moving to the gutter is from just one street. Add all that together and the land fill must be enormous. There is little recycling in this area where we are, so everything is dumped together. There are trash poles on the street with guess what color plastic garbage bags hanging from them that are changed a few times a day? Can't miss those shamrock green plastic bags, like the brooms, trucks, and uniforms. But apparently many people do.
The street cleaning crew is something to see. Often at the end of the business day in our area of the city there are two crews outside, and sometimes I have counted more than a dozen green men. All men. I have never seen a woman in the green uniform. Shamrock green is just not flattering. I have watched them now for weeks, every day because L&P and I venture out about the time they show up. For the five minutes or so I get to watch, four of those minutes are spent with the green uniform guys either talking on their cell phones, looking at their cell phones, or talking to someone else who is watching their cell phone. Then maybe one man out of the entire group will take a broom and the cleaning begins. Then they all climb in their various trucks or leave by foot and off they go. But not just yet. The ones who are in the green trucks, once more, go through the cell phone routine before they start the truck. It isn't that they don't all do work. I just have not figured out what all of the work they do entails. In a city with unions galore dictating every task in most workplaces, it is a sure bet that each of the men in green have a responsibility, and the guy with the green broom is not gonna be the one to, say, drive the truck, or change the shamrock green garbage bags.
Rue Joubert is a dead end. I don't think the map indicates that by the amount of traffic we get that gets stuck at the end of our street. The green trucks always park at the end of the street in the middle so that anyone ignorant of the dead end fact cannot see the dead end. They merely see a truck parked in the middle of the street, which around here is not uncommon. So they pull up behind it. And wait. And wait patiently some more. Then others follow behind doing the same thing. Parisians for the most part are very patient at waiting.
The other evening the traffic became so dense I was sure it would take a day to clear out. And soon the green truck moved - didn't actually leave. Just moved a bit so now the car stuck behind him could see the barriers ending the street. Oops. L&P and I escaped because that just would not have been fun to watch as the entire line of cars tried to back out of the street. Rue Joubert is narrow. You almost cannot get two cars on the street side by side although everyone does try it. Just don't open your car door.
And lots of scooters use Rue Jourbert to get to the RER station under our apartment. They park on the sidewalk. Often they drive on the sidewalk too. That makes L&P nervous. Momo too. Some of them need to learn how to drive - maybe they think they are still driving hot wheels? L, totally out of character has reached her limits with those scooters because her new thing is to try to give them traffic tickets as they go by. How do I know this? Let's just say the peevish look on her face reminds me of Miss Marples (did I get that name right). Ah, well, you know what I mean. Think of your most constipated teacher in junior high school who shook her finger at you every day just for breathing. There. That is L with a naughty scooter driver blowing by her on the sidewalk.
So, the green cleaners have a big job to do everyday all day long. Street cleanup in Paris is big big business. Unlike what we are used to in many parts of the US, these trucks are small, and very very clean, spit polish clean every day. And in good repair. I have not seen one yet that doesn't look almost new and well, bright shiny green.
The men in green have seen me pick up L&P poop, and I hope they appreciate it. Somehow I don't think they care much. And by the way, if dog poop isn't sitting in the gutter where it floods, it might not get cleaned up by them. Sometimes they clean it up and other times they leave it. I am never sure why. But eventually the center of the street gets cleaned too though I have never observed it being done. Magic? Or very very big relatives of the mice we met at that very nice restaurant.
So for the men in green, Momo rates them a nice 7. Men in purple would be every so much more fetching, but the men in green with their coordinating accessories are very shiny. L&P have concurred and rate them a bit fat zip because they take all the good stuff away just in time for the early bird special buffet. L&P have yet to realize that the proper dinner hour in Paris begins at 8PM, silly girls.