It’s Saturday here, which means the garbage collectors will have ventured my way. My trash or rubbish collection day is Friday, but since that was Good Friday, my area has its service postponed till one day later.
The service has been changing over the last 20 years. When I ﬁrst emigrated here, these folks would come on to your property, collect the garbage, and move on. They would often jump fences, but it was all in the name of service. On the last collection day before Christmas, we would buy them a six-pack of beer and three bags of potato chips and leave a thank-you note.
One day in the 1980s, it was all restructured. Supposedly it was to help with efﬁciency or some monetarist garbage. (I believe in efﬁciency and markets, sure, but in this and many cases, where government is involved, it turns out to be BS.)
Right afterwards, we saw to a reduction in service. We would have to take our own trash to the street, otherwise you wouldn’t get a darn thing collected. The bags would have to be purchased, because unofﬁcial bags would be ignored.
Conclusion: no more beer and chips for guys who still work hard, and who perform a vital service. Because the Wellington City Council changed that entire tradition to something colder—just as the banks did in the 1980s and 1990s, and many other sectors I can name. Note to the folks running the joint: you will have to buy your own beer and chips. It is just a faceless, inhuman operation.
And that is a shame. As I said, refuse collectors perform a vital service. I still appreciate them, personally, because this situation is not of their making, but of progressively greedier mayors and councils in this town.
Our rates are as high as ever, the city no longer enjoys nice budgetary surpluses despite screwing us on car parking and other areas (it is more expensive to park on the streets of Wellington than those of Stockholm or New York), and, to signal to us that things are getting worse, the ofﬁcial rubbish bags have been shrinking. They once wrapped nicely around my trash can, now they barely make it to the top. Oh, they have been getting more expensive as well ($10 for 10 around 10 years ago to $18·50 for 10 today).
Wellington City needs to realize we are not stupid. And we might begin to make our own demands one of these days. That is the topic for another post.
But all these little moves point to covering up facts that ratepayers will ﬁnd out sooner or later, damaging the Council’s brand—and making us less appreciative of initiatives the City may want our support over. We get behind The Lord of the Rings and King Kong premières here not because of the mayor, Kerry Prendergast, but because we love home-town boy Peter Jackson. Try doing the same parties without the guy’s endorsement and see if anyone bothers.
The buck stops not at the refuse collectors, but at the desk of our mayor herself, since we know that, while things are relatively stable, we have to live with the Council. She is the one who campaigns with a massive branding effort at each election. (Mayoral elections in Wellington are less often contested with party brands any more, but with personalities.) And she needs to realize that personal brands have the same behaviours as organizational ones: they make her a massive target when things go bad. The stronger the branding campaign, the more strictly you have to deliver your election promises, otherwise the more you are the source of all blame.
She may want to consider that these developments have all happened on her watch, and that the smell of garbage might not be as readily covered up the next time she campaigns. People might just be reminded that things were better before her term began.
Kerry Prendergast’s re-election campaign will be a tough one to ﬁght.
Disclaimer: the mayor and I know one another, but I have no connections with her or potential rivals whom I know of.
Del.icio.us tags: city services mayoral election Wellington New Zealand refuse branding personal branding Posted by Jack Yan, 22:11
I agree with you that the garbage collectors do an important job. And like me, you prefer the personal touch to. In Malaysia back in the 70s, 80s when I was still living there, we had huge trucks coming to pick up our rubbish outside. Every Chinese New Year, they would come by for a red packet and it was a pleasure for us to give them a huge tip and sometimes to surprise them with gifts as well!
I wasn't sure I liked the way they tore at my Rambutan fruit trees though. :P But it was good to share with them.
I do wish we can still retain the personal touch in what we do. That's why I like you as Lucire's boss Jack. You have that personal touch. :) Good on ya mate (Spoken like the Speights ad man)
I enjoyed reading your writing Jack!
Hi Amanda: yes, we have lost a lot of what made New Zealand society great because various politicians have put money and proﬁt before our culture. I had thought, even though I did not vote for them, that Labour would go some way in restoring that in 1999, but the reality is the opposite. Is the tradition with garbage collectors maintained in Malaysia today?
According to my mom, yes!Post a Comment
We no longer own the bungalow and mom lived in a condominium for the last 12 years ago, so I do not know if she really know if the old tradition goes on. heh! heh!
Our ol house was such that we had a long drive way up and it was fully gated, with 8 dogs guarding us... so we took our garbage out ourselves and the garbage truck came by to pick them up.
We could have a conversation sometimes,`we'as in my elders, none of my sisters spoke with them... we were young,shy and a sweet young things back then, so there was no way we would have spoken with a bunch of men who leered at us. But my dad and my grandma did!
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