First the headlines: “They Ain’t Like in the City.”
Now the details…
Let’s begin with the garbage discussion because it’s been a fun adventure.
When we first moved to the Outback in 2003, there was no garbage service. People just made a “burn pile” and tossed their junk on it. Then, once a month (maybe three in the summer with burn bans on) you’d take a 5-gallon jerry can of diesel, slop it all over the pile and then light it off. I’ve personally built fires with 15-foot high walls of flame this way.
Oh, sure, seems dangerous, but with a small to mid-sized 4X4 tractor with a bucket on it, you can push up the pile and it burns like crazy. Just have to be careful driving through a fire to do so quickly enough that the tires don’t catch. You don’t want to stall there.
Along about 2006, Allied Waste decided to offer service here. Being a lazy sot, I was one of their first customers. Then, in 2008, Republic Services (Symbol: RGS) bought them. Disclosure: Yes I own some stock. For 10-years, garbage ran like a clock. The drivers would get a bottle at Christmas and we’d always pay our bill on ( and usually ahead of) time. Peace and harmony.
But then, about two weeks back, I got an odd letter from the company. Mind you, they bought our account from Allied Waste and so I figured they would just take the money and be a good little company.
“After a route audit of our service areas, we have determined that your location is not safe for our truck and driver. (Nowhere to turn the vehicle around on Dead end street without getting on private property and off roadway.) Republic Service’s highest priority is Safety.”
Shareholder revelation: I thought making money was job #1. I’m getting out of touch, I guess.
The fellow who owns the place where they had turned around for 10 years apparently didn’t respond fast enough, or send them a “permission email” instantly…because our garbage cans disappeared what seemed a few minutes after the trash pickup last Thursday.
Ure, being a shareholder, was shocked. Why would a garbage company which has been picking up trash for 10-years bail out? I got on the phone. I mean, we’re not deadbeats…
I never was clear (after talking to media relations in Phoenix at corporate, the local office, and such), just who had made this “safety call.” But (miracle of miracles) here in the Outback, “safety issues” are easily fixed with an email. (This led us to suspect a lawyer or new safety boss operating somewhere in the company might be behind this…)
At any rate, the blue can appeared after the “comfort email” and we are once again happy customers (and still shareholders).
The lesson here? If you buy property on a dead end road, make sure you can get trash pick up – which includes a place to turn the truck around. If you’re a pyro, just go for the diesel burn.
From the main road, otherwise, it’s about 1,500 feet of backing up to our can and a furtherr 500-feet up to the neighbor’s place.
All’s well that ends well. And I’m sure my promise to FedEx overnight to the CEO’s office a whole week’s worth trash had nothing to do with this resolved. Nor did my thoughtful question for a shareholders meeting about retention of rural Allied Waste customers acquired (like us) in 2008. 10-years in, it would be an interesting metric.
The Rural Water Adventure
“Hi. Is this the Brushy Creek Water District?”
“Yes, sir, it is. How may I help you?”
“What time are ya’ll coming over for the fish-fry?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“I think we could do it in October, I called in a report of a leak on ya’ll’s side of the water meter a couple of weeks back. I’ve been looking at it develop and I’m thinking about getting the tractor out and hogging out a bass pond. I figure if I plant right away by fall, the fish’d be up to eating size – maybe toss in some tilapia. Did you know tilapia is the second-fastest growing fresh water fish? Anyway, I figure a half-acre pond would be good..maybe put a bridge in for the driveway. Figure it’d look kinda pretty and we could all sit on the bridge this fall and have us a fish fry…doesn’t that sound like fun?”
“This must be Mr. Ure…”
Damn! The lady was onto me. Had no idea what gave it away.
“We have Ure leak prioritized…”
What followed was about 7-minutes of me learning how water companies deal with leaky connections like this. She did mention that if I could run through the leak to cool off, I could call them back and it would be moved up their leaky list.
Seems this time of the year – being an unusually dry one in East Texas – there’s a fair bit of earth movement going on. I figure it couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the oil rigs down the road emptying out the underground as fast as they could, nor could it be linked to the parade of dump trucks from the local rock pit further down the hill…
Sadly, it’ll get fixed.
With it, my dreams of bridge shopping on eBay for a Lake Havasu City, Arizona runner-up to their London Bridge have been dashed on the rocks of despair. I did look anyway. Hard to find a good bridge for a 1/2 acres bass pond…so maybe the Almighty is looking out for us.
These are not the typical relations one has with local utilities in the Big City. Most of them are too busy installing fresh pot holes or leaving garbage around big cities. Dropping needles, rubbing out fog lines and crosswalks.
Underlying my successful approach – mainly a good sense of humor.
Once you adjust to the less-manic lifestyle outside the city limits, when a problem presents itself, you can “get creative.” Would I have really sent the Ultimate Garbage Boss on High in Glendale, AZ a FedEx box full of trash? Well, yeah…but no need now.
My humor takes a hike at some point, Everyone’s does.
Would we really install a bridge and a bass pond? Well, Chief, would you believe a culvert and a ditch? (Smart, very Smart…)
Point is, life is too short to take things seriously. The rural environment needs to be kept free of excessive seriousness and regulations.
Out here in the Land Time Forgot. Where there are only two genders and such.
Well, our dreams of 25 megs up and 10 down Internet are out in the trash again, although the local ViaSat provider is coming out in a few weeks to put us on a “new beam.” This means a new dish, new modem with built-in WiFi and such.
If you EVER look at rural property, the very first question out of your mouth should be “What’s internet access like out here?” There are some utilities than can’t be mimicked with 5 gallons of diesel.
East Texas Broadband has dandy service (only three hops from fiber) but the trees have grown up so much we don’t have a clear shot at their tower from anywhere, short of putting up another 60-foot tower and burying cable. Too much work.
Yeah…higher speed for the rest my life sounds great, but what if that’s only another 10-minutes? Once you hit Social Security “lifetime warranties” become useless, too.
ViaSat is promising to make 30 MB available (if you have enough money anything is available – that happens to be Donald Trump’s problem). We will cross that culvert when we come to it. Thankfully, we have three data on-ramps that work.
Recreation or rural property without internet is not a good investment. So in order when you’re looking to build a dacha sticks:: Internet, ground water, rainfall in the area enough for a crop of some kind, a tree or more, useful neighbors, trash collection, and rural water so back up your well, or visa-versa. Power to the property or call John down at www.sunelec.com and tell him “Hi” for us. That only leaves one last question.
How you going to pay for all this?
I got that steel push-around cart I’d recommended the other day put together. Only thing to be aware of (as further advice to consider) is that there are 16 screws with nuts and washers for the casters. And 48-more for the handle and legs.
I haven’t screwed so much in 30-years, more or less.
I mentioned our recent acquisition of one of those non-flash game cameras. Works great.
In fact, out by the watering tub we put out for the wildlife, not one damn thing of the wild sort has come through since. Except for a guy who looked like Sasquatch and Elaine looking the part of a woodnymph…. Oh, and the mailman’s rig.
(Just so we’re clear: Woodnymphs are hummingbirds in the genus Thalurania. I’ll skip any more woodpecker discussion.)
The rest of the wildlife won’t have anything to do with the water tub now, at all. Or, maybe they’ve moved on to the water leak at the meter…just no telling out here.
Write when you get rich,