Godzilla Comes to Scottsdale

What do Godzilla, Son of Godzilla, and the Litter Pig all have in common? No, they aren’t Japanese horror flick sequels or remakes, though watching them in action for the first time could have triggered nightmares, I suppose.

Once in a while I read a story that contains so many themes that I don’t know where to start. The subject of this article is a story in Waste and Recycling News [requires cookies to be enabled] about–yes, you Scottsdale old-timers may have guessed–the first automated garbage collection truck and its descendants.

Hard work, stress, necessity, innovation, the drive for efficient delivery of public services, and the value of public employees in that equation are all part of the story of Scottsdale’s world-leading automation of garbage collection.

I note from the article,

According to a history of the [Scottsdale sanitation] department, employee turnover for sanitation workers was an astonishing 91% in 1968. With summer temperatures hitting 120 degrees, some workers quit before the end of the first day.

Even though efficiency improved drastically and reduced physical stress for sanitation workers, automated collection was no picnic for the drivers.

“The guy who drove the truck didn’t have air conditioning and he was behind that hot engine all day,” [former Scottsdale Public Works director Marc] Stragier said. “It was miserable, but boy, you couldn’t tell him to get out of that truck. That was his deal.”

Public service employees aren’t getting a lot of respect these days, even in Scottsdale with our rich tradition of camaraderie and customer service. We have the luxury of taking them for granted because especially in Scottsdale they’ve always done such a good job that they’ve become invisible except for budget time.

Let’s be a little more open-minded about competitive compensation if we are going to expect a higher level of services, and innovation in their delivery.

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