Is service a thing of the past all over or just in my own little realm?

I am having buzzard luck when it comes to the type of personal service that we used to take for granted from those folks who worked in — well, the service industry. You are familiar with buzzard luck, I presume? Can’t kill nothing. Can’t find nothing dead. It’s like that.

Take the trash industry for example.

Trash had come a long way since I was a kid. I say had, and for good reason.

Now, this is not to talk-down the folks who picked up our trash in Porterdale. Skinny Reynolds drove the trash truck for a long time. He was also the soda jerk at Standard Pharmacy, and everybody loved him. As far as I know, he was as punctual as a Timex watch. I didn’t pay much attention to those kinds of things back then, but I never heard my daddy complain about his service.

But we didn’t have those nice green containers with wheels that you roll to the curb like we have today. We had old burned out 55-gallon drums. I was pretty old before we even started putting our trash in plastic bags. Of course, we didn’t have nearly as much trash, either.

We didn’t throw away table scraps. We saved our leftovers and scraped the rest into a big bucket and after supper we would go over to the hog pen and slop the hogs. Porterdale had a community hog pen. Anybody that wanted to could keep one, and lots of folks in the village would go over of an evening and take their table scraps to the hogs. It was high adventure for a small child and great social networking for the grownups. It was far superior to Facebook.

If we had any paper products, we put those in the burn barrel and set fire to them. The rest of the stuff we would leave out for Skinny to pick up. Except sometimes stray dogs would get in the trash and scatter it from here to yonder, and it was always my job to pick up after the stray dogs.

Our next-door neighbor was a prim and proper lady who never married and lived with her mother. She was a staunch Presbyterian and if she had been born in the 19th century would have been head of the local temperance society. She was four-square against alcohol, understand.

But once a year one of her relatives would come to visit from out of state. This gentleman happened to be an imbiber. On those occasions she would ask my daddy if she could put her uncle’s empty beer cans in our trash, just in case Skinny Reynolds got nosey. My daddy let her, but always charged her $2, which was the going price for a gallon of moonshine in those days.

But if my neighbor had my trash service, her uncle’s beer cans would sit in our 55-gallon barrel for weeks.

Our people are supposed to come on Tuesdays, so I dutifully roll the trash up our driveway every Monday night. My driveway is about 150 yards long, understand, and is up a hill. It’s not an easy task.

About half the time, or so it seems, we get a robocall on Tuesday morning letting us know that service will be delayed for a day or more because of unforeseen circumstances. The other half of the time they just don’t show. So, I have to decide whether to roll the smelly garbage back down the hill that afternoon and back up the hill that night, or early the next morning. Or do I just let it sit on the side of the road for a day or two waiting for stray dogs or coyotes to scatter my garbage. Meanwhile, bags of trash pile up in the garage.

Two weeks ago, we reached an all-time low. The guys on the truck dropped my container and broke one of the wheels half in two — and just left the broken receptacle and half the wheel sitting by the road. Several calls to the service went unreturned. My lovely wife, Lisa, finally got a human being on the phone Monday and was told that they would trade out our container — in two weeks.

Even in my best days I couldn’t drag that big receptacle full of trash up a 150-yard-long hill without a wheel on the bottom. “Not my problem,” according to the customer-no-service person that Lisa talked to.

And apparently, poor service knows no bounds. I’ve waited four days for a call-back from my gastroenterologist to schedule a colonoscopy, the preparation for which gives a whole new meaning to taking out the trash.

After calling that office multiple times I finally got to talk to a human being who was no more helpful than the people at the trash company. “We’ll get to you when we get to you,” I was told.

“But, my stomach hurts,” I complained.

“Not my problem,” was the response — or might as well have been.

I’ve said it before. I’m a 20th century man stuck in the 21st century.

Where has all the service gone? At least Brian Kemp and Greg McGarity still return my calls. I guess there’s that.

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Darrell Huckaby is an author in Rockdale County. Email him at

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