The Forgotten Heroes of Covid-19 (My Coronavirus Diaries, Installment #16)

June 14, 2020

Of all the Heroes of Covid-19
braving the illness to serve us—
The doctors and nurses,
firemen and EMTs,
grocers, meatpackers,
postal workers
and pizza deliverers,

The lowly garbage man
was forgotten.

Week by week,
Month by month
of these coronavirus days,

We’ve gathered our trash
and recyclable waste,
set them out
at our curbs
or in our alleys,

in the full and certain
that our detritus
would be
picked up.

But not today.

This week, our oh-
so-dependable Department
of Public Works announced:

Recycling is suspended
For the next three weeks.
And by the way,
Your garbage may sit

for a day or two
or more.

Because your trusty
garbage man
has called out sick!

“How dare they?”
We cry out
in our
community chatrooms.

“If they don’t come,
we’ll be over-run
by rats and
other vermin!”

The current generation
of young homeowners
and their children
who set out their trash
in city-issued
industrial grade,
lidded plastic cans

may be forgiven
for not knowing
how things used to be:

When garbage was collected
Not once, but twice a week,
from rusted, dented
metal cans so overflowing
that maggots writhed
and flies buzzed
atop the open cans,
and the stench was

But my friends and I
did not complain
that the cans sat
in the middle of the sidewalk,
blocking our clear path
to our schools
or playgrounds.

We simply pinched our noses,
cried “Ewww!!!”
and giggled
as we kept moving,
waving the stench away.

2 thoughts on “The Forgotten Heroes of Covid-19 (My Coronavirus Diaries, Installment #16)

  1. I don’t forget them….hell for 2 and a half summers, I was one. I worked out of the Cherry Hill yard with the Hokey men in South Baltimore. Later when I lived in Mt. Vernon, I would leave my guys a 12 pack of Heini for Christmas. And last Christmas I jumped in the car at 7 ungodly to chase down the truck to deliver their tip,. Forgotten I’m sure….but not here.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, yes the memories……the flies and maggots. Dad would go out and spray them all with something toxic and we would watch them all die.

    I have often wondered about the cleanup crews in the hospitals. The folks that come around each day and clean the rooms, empty the garbage, wash the toilets. Yes, we clap for the medical staff, but what about those who are exposed to the virus in such a unique way, by literally putting their hands and faces in the muck of it?


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