Garbage Man

Air mail: Garbage thrown at the truck from windows above.

Bale the truck: Squeeze the movable wall near the cab end of the truck body against the blade that pushes the garbage into the truck body. It compacts the trash as tightly as possible and can allow an extra ton or so of trash to fit in the truck.

Banged: Disciplined. If you get banged, someone above you in the chain of command has filed a written complaint about you.

Blood money: Overtime for working snow once the novelty has been replaced by the relentlessness of too many hours and no days off.

Body bags: The big (120-gallon), long garbage bags that come from apartment buildings with compactors. They look as if they could hold a body. Also called sausage bags.

Bumper cars: Mechanical brooms.

Can man: How many workers are available to staff a particular need. Phrased as “What’s your can man for today?”

Coned: A litter basket that’s overloaded and overflowing, such that it resembles an ice cream cone.

Disco rice: Maggots.

Fruit wagon: Collection truck.

Gate work: Lifting garbage cans and garbage bags over the gates that stand between a home and the street.

Gold-chain garage: A garage with many workers of Italian heritage.

Hook: Someone within the bureaucracy, usually of higher rank, who can do you a favor or help you out of a jam. A person with good hooks has a lot of juice.

House of Pain: Nickname for the Bronx 7 garage, where the average weight on the day shift is sometimes as high as 20 tons.

Junior flip: New hire.

LODI: Line-of-duty injury. “He went LODI” means he is away from work because of an injury sustained on the job.

LUV truck: Light utility vehicle; a small pickup truck, also called a haulster.

M’on back man: The person who guides a driver while the driver is backing up a truck (short for “Come on back”).

Mongo/mungo: (N .) objects plucked/rescued from the trash; (v.) to take objects from the trash.

Nanny goat route: An especially hilly route on collection or recycling.

On the arm: Unpaid labor. For instance: “Are you being paid for this work?” “Hell, yes, I’d never do it on the arm!”

Picking up: Where you work. Someone working in Greenwich Village around the university would say, “I pick up N Y U .”

Rocket: A written complaint (as in a foreman telling a sanitation worker, “If you don’t clean your route today, I’ll give you a rocket”).

Ro-ro: Roll-on/roll-off truck, used for some kinds of containers.

Sitting bull: Back in the day when there were three men on a truck, the driver never got out and never helped load; he was called the sitting bull.

Stealing a street: Driving down a one-way street the wrong way.

Tiffany: A particularly neat and tidy job of collection or sweeping. “He did a real Tiffany on that stop.”

White elephant: Collection truck.

Courtesy: Robin Nagle, anthropologist-in-residence at New York City’s Department of Sanitation since 2006.