Friday, March 1, 2024

Frog in a Boiling Pot

    It’s official. NYC will be transitioning to a new side-loading garbage truck. According to Mayor Adams, lucky Manhattan Community Board 9 (Morningside Heights, Manhattanville, and Hamilton Heights) will be the first CB  with 100 percent of its trash containerized and serviced by next year.



Side Loading Garbage Truck
(Image courtesy of The Official Website of the City of New York)


    This is all happening four years ahead of the Mayor’s own previous schedule, which is not a case of grandstanding by a Mayor who had his phones seized by the FBI and is the subject of at least three criminal investigations including an investigation into the mayor’s former buildings commissioner that is expected to yield bribery and mob-related charges against several people who helped raise money for Mayor Adams. Nor is it a public relations ploy to distract from the lowest mayoral approval rating (28%) recorded in the over 25 years Quinnipiac University has been polling.


    We won’t look askance at the whopping influx of funds needed for the re-fitted Sanitation Industry in these currently lean years of austerity budgets where almost everything but Sanitation has been earmarked for cuts. Still, a fleet of new trucks for our infamously Italian-cuisine-loving Mayor with a mechanized side loader made from superior Italian technology may be more costly than we realize. In addition, there is the maintenance of said trucks, worker training, new signage and much more that will rack up additional costs for this giant overhaul. We won’t mention these concerns because everyone knows Rats are a real problem in NYC, at least from a human point of view.  


    What about the rats’ needs? This program is designed to reduce the rat population by starvation. The program champions proudly inform us these containers will effectively deprive rats access to food. Is that fair? Have we completely forgotten about the rats’ right to live and breathe? Sure, they can’t embarrass us on X or GoFundMe, but what if they did have a voice? Will PETA come to their aid citing cruelty and torture? What news outlets or action groups are taking up their cause? Is this the one species that has no right to live or just another species that can’t afford to live in New York City?


    Some Paleontologists believe that a small rat-like mammal is the first known creature belonging to the evolutionary line that led to human beings. Its fossil, uncovered in China, is evidence of the earliest “placental” species, an ancestor of all placental mammals (mammals that diverged from other mammals) like us. To assert our Manifest Destiny over rat territory we may be starving to death part of our own ancestral heritage.


    So, let’s assume we do effectively begin to starve out the rats. What recourse will rats then have? Will they go quietly in underground rat hospices surrounded by equally emaciated rat friends and family? Will they fight and cannibalize each other to the bitter end until there is nothing left but a few rat bones to pick over? In the course of history, when the means of sustenance runs out, animals have adapted their food source, migrated or gone extinct. I, for one, have had rats chew through my car wiring on four different occasions over the years disabling lights, hindering transmissions, you name it. Apparently, the insulation is yummy, but they go right through the copper strands as well. I no longer park overnight near restaurants. With this new program, will any distance from our finer food sources be safe? Any New Yorker can tell you what rats do to our streets when heavy rains or a broken water main floods their burrows. It’s the quotable “sinking ship.”


    Here I think our Mayor and City Council practice the wisdom of the Frog in a Pot. Not to be confused with the Frog in a Blender, this story is if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in lukewarm water which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. It’s a parable that has been used to explain everything from the Nazi rise to power to deniers of global warming and the unraveling of democracy around the world. The plan is to eradicate the rodents before they know it.


    In today’s world what would people do if they were systematically denied the very food they need to survive? Say it was a group of people on a flight and the stewardess announced there would be only enough food for first class and the plane will never land.  I suspect it will land with a crash. Or imagine a crowd of people waiting for Walmart to open on Black Friday were suddenly told there would be only half as many sales items this year. They’ve made movies about that one. Safe to say humans would not go quietly. Will our great aunt/uncle ancestor, the rodent, go any quieter?


New Garbage Truck Minus parking space

    A Dept. of Sanitation (DSNY) report estimates that the new extra wide trash containers will take up between 10% to 25% of curb parking on any given block. That would mean once this becomes a citywide program, it could result in the loss of up to 150,000 parking spaces. Chalk it up to the ever expanding list of citywide initiatives (too many to mention) to systematically choke off street parking and drive it (and us) to ultimate extinction. 


    Once again, the middle class, who can’t afford a garage, who need to park our cars on the street, are treated like rats.

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