Picking up

Picking up

On the Streets and Behind the Trucks With the Sanitation Workers of New York City

Book - 2013
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Charting New York's four-hundred-year struggle with trash, an anthropologist who spent ten years with sanitation workers of all ranks reveals what it takes for the Department of Sanitation to manage Gotham's garbage.
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780374299293
Branch Call Number: Business & Career 331.761 Nag


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ksoles Sep 09, 2013

Anthropologist Robin Nagle has written a fascinating and deserving profile of the hardworking men and women who form the seventh most hazardous occupation in the US (according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics). She provides insight on both the job of garbage collection and on the people who scour New York City's streets every day of the year.

The physically strenuous job description of the Sanitation Worker encompasses garbage collection, disposal and snow removal. These laborers receive “scant notice and even less praise” from the public though, without them, cities become unliveable. Nagle's research immersion in the sanitation process included manning a garbage-collection route from which she exasperatedly reports that the job requires juggling on-site perils, early-morning start times and the sheer physical resiliency required for successful employment.

Nagle astutely points out that our “lushly consumptive economy and culture” keeps san workers in business. She takes the science of scavenging seriously, as evidenced by her postgraduate seminar “Garbage in Gotham,” which included a tour of the colossally expansive Staten Island Fresh Kills landfill. Ultimately, "Picking Up" garners newfound respect for an essential yet greatly underappreciated workforce. You may go through your whole life never needing to call a cop or a firefighter but everyone relies on a sanitation worker everyday.

rosenyny Jul 08, 2013

Everyone should read this book. Sanitation workers are the unsung heroes and heroines who deserve our highest levels of recognition, respect, cooperation, and consideration. Nagle provides an amazing window into the work life and, to some extent, the personal lives of sanitation workers. Theirs is not a job that most of us are willing or capable of doing. While I have always had respect for the work they do, after reading Picking Up, it inspires me to be direct and vocal with my thanks to them. Next time you get stuck in traffic behind a sanitation truck, be glad you don't have to do the grueling work they do and just get out of their way so they can do their job in peace. Also, pet owners, gives these folks a break and have your pets pee/poop someplace other than on garbage bags.

hgeng63 Apr 13, 2013

Interesting but not exciting.


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