Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Keepin' it Clean, Part I. The Pacifier Man of Menton

In March of this year when the City of Ottawa announced their intention to cut household trash collection from once a week to once every two weeks I could almost see the flies cheering and beating their wings with glee.  What a happy and stinky time for all those hungry insects, insatiable raccoons, squirrels, rats, mice, cockroaches and other parasitic chow hounds that will join the flies in the stampede to the trash can buffet!

Here in the south of France, trash is collected six times a week and it takes no getting used to at all. How do they do it?  I don't really know but I'm glad they do.

In Menton, if you live in a house, every day you put your trash in your very own trash can and leave it by the side of the road.  If you live in a village with streets that are too narrow and steep for a trash truck to manage, you put your trash in a designated central place in a large communal receptacle that everyone shares.  Uncle Jim and I do this at our house in Monaco.  It's a good chance to mingle with the neighbours!

Along with the frequent household trash collection there is a huge fleet of trucks, boats, carts, hoses, receptacles and dedicated people who roam the streets and sea throughout the day who sweep, spray, empty, scrub, scrape, scoop, wipe and generally work hard to keep the streets and water for the most part, shining and bright.  The exceptions will be discussed in Keepin' it Clean Part II,  but I digress...

This morning as I was leaving the Marché U grocery store in the Port of Garavan, I met up with Jean-Pierre, one of Menton's most specialized street cleaners.

Jean Pierre roams the area around the port of Garavan between the sea and the wide pedestrian avenue on the Promenade du Soleil, collecting all the things that the messy people drop, throw, toss and discard. You always know when Jean Pierre is nearby because the street behind him is clean and by how he decorates his trash cart.  It's unmistakable.  For years now, Jean Pierre has been collecting all the tetines or pacifiers that he finds.  All of these colourful tetines form a pretty ring around his trash cart.  

On this beautiful sunny morning, I asked Jean Pierre how long he has been collecting the tetines.  "A few years," he replied and added that he finds more of them in the summer than the winter,  the summer being a prime time when tourists with babies sucking on tetines descend on Menton to swim on the beach.

 Judging by his cart, shops that sell new tetines in Menton are doing a booming business!


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