The garbage, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind

I’m chasing plastic milk jugs down the street about the time the trash collectors decide to strike.

It’s a windy Friday afternoon. My bag o’ aluminum inches down the sidewalk. Two shopping bags of newspaper are tucked up next to my half-empty trash bin. My glass recycle bin is doing fine. Wine bottles don’t seem to catch much wind.

But my yellow recycle container is overflowing with plastic jugs, soup cans, water bottles, etc. Even after mashing plastic milk containers flat, the stuff barely fits. Hence jugs rolling down the street.

(No more milk, I tell my kids. But they don’t listen. They keep guzzling the stuff—now $3.05 per gallon at WinCo. At Winco!—like it’s Kool-Aid.)

I corral the jugs in time for the recycle truck’s arrival. Soon the garbage truck will come, I think, and take away the junk I can’t recycle—dog poo, weeds, packaging odds and ends. But Waste Management Inc. never comes.

Bins still line the streets Friday when folks get home from work. Boxes are blowing into yards.

(Note to waste workers of Reno and Sparks: We appreciate you. You deserve to be paid for the hours you work. You deserve a safe working environment and affordable health benefits. Don’t let ’em talk you out of your union. In Stockton last month, striking trash collectors with Teamsters Local 439 won wage increases, the continuation of health benefits that had been threatened and double pay for hours performed in excess of 55 hours per week.)

Leaving trashed East Sparks behind, we head to Great Basin Brewing Co., where we just miss ordering the microbrewery’s millionth Icky. (For those of you fresh off the boat from the Bay Area, an Icky is the nickname for Great Basin’s custom India pale ale, the Ichthyosaur.)

When we arrive, a friend notes that only about 100 Ickys remain to be served. We can’t remember what the prize is—a trip or something. By the time we make our way through the crowd to the bar, only 10 Ickys stand between us and the winning brew. Pints are selling like ice water in the sizzling desert. Some rowdy folks at the bar appear to have consumed plenty of Icky.

Then—a winner! A frequent Icky taster from Sparks.

Cheering ensues. “I’m glad someone won who actually likes Icky,” an employee notes.

The event has me wondering. They’ve actually been counting Ickys all these years? Do bartenders keep little tick marks on the tap? How did they know that this beer was the exact millionth Icky?

I’m told that, for tax purposes, the microbrewery tracks how many gallons of Icky it makes and sells. Divide gallons by pints and you’ve got an approximate number of beers.

In any event, it’s fun. We eat fish and garlic fries and watch tipsy Icky-philes claim other door prizes such as hats and beer glasses.

When we arrive home, the trash remains. By Saturday morning, some scabs—non-union folks who don’t usually do heavy lifting—come and make our dog poo disappear.

On Sunday, I catch union activist Andy Barbano’s column in The Daily Sparks Tribune. He urges We the People to join protesters on the picket line.

“The system has been rigged against the little people,” Barbano writes. “All they can do is howl in the streets or send their children to war in an increasingly futile search for the American Dream.

“The enemy is not that flaming pro-tax liberal or that racist every-man-is-an-island conservative. The enemy lives at the top, that narrow band of patricians who keep us fighting each other for crumbs.”

Hoo-ha. Here’s an idea: This week, buy a striking trash guy a beer. I hear they’re already counting pints toward Icky two million.