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Letter: We’re talkin’ trash – Lakewood’s ‘dump-it-days’

Why was Lakewood’s Community Development Director Dave Bugher standing in the middle of the road, leaning on the driver’s side open widows of trucks, cars, and U-Hauls as they lined up bumper to bumper this past weekend?

And, for that matter, what was the occasion that smiling members of the Lakewood City Council, City Manager John Caulfield, Senior Policy Analyst Shannon Kelley-Fong, Human Resources Director Mary McDougal, Police Sergeant John Fraser and others of the city’s executive team were likewise directing traffic from the staging area to the end of this parade?

Metal Bin Men.

Because it was a parade.

Not a parade of daffodil floats or marching bands but of trucks with mattresses to dump, trailers full of appliances to discard, broken down bicycles, tires – with or without wheels, couches and chairs, stoves and grills, and more, and more, and more.

It was Lakewood’s Spring Cleanup, a biannual event in which the city partners with LeMay Pierce County Refuse to offer Lakewood residents the opportunity to drop off items for free at the Lakewood Transfer Station.

As the parade of vehicles wound their way through the grounds, on the first day of the two-day event, if you had a washer or a dryer, wood or a tire, the first folks you may have met were ‘the metal-bin-men’: Major Whitten, Tracey G., and Steve Palmer (pictured left to right).

It may have been that ‘the metal-bin-men’ weren’t supposed to assist in offloading my rather ancient stacking washer-dryer but I know if it depended solely on me it wasn’t going to happen.

‘The metal-bin-men’ made sure it did.

I was able to wrestle the four mattresses into the container myself and bounce the box springs “just anywhere there” per the directions of the fellow in the yellow vest, thanking each assistant in turn for making this event happen.

“Thank the city,” one yellow-jacketed fellow said in response. “And thank you,” he smiled, “for not dumping the box springs along the road.”

“I thought about it.”

He stopped smiling.

“Just kidding.”

But, kidding aside, that’s what this event is designed to do.

Mary McDougal, Shannon Kelly-Fong and John Fraser.

“It’s good to be able to keep the community clean,” said Jeremiah Day who seemed to be directing operations.

“Just an awesome program to clean up the streets,” added Chris Giraldes who, to me, surely looked in charge before he said that no, Jeremiah Day was.

Sgt. Fraser wanted to know if those four mattresses and one box springs in the back of my truck were from the community.

No, I replied sheepishly, I was not helping my neighbors. They were all mine.

“But wouldn’t that be a good idea though?” Fraser asked. “Put a container in the neighborhoods themselves where so many folks don’t have access to a truck?”

Fraser said he’s been lobbying the powers-that-be to that end.

Speaking of whom, Mary McDougal (Human Resources Director) and Shannon Kelley-Fong (Senior Policy Analyst) posed for a picture with Fraser.

As they lined up Shannon, perhaps all of five-feet-two, said, “I’m not blocking anybody am I?”

“How long have you been with the City of Lakewood?” I asked her.

“Almost two years now. One year and 10 months to be exact.”

“Sounds like you’re counting the days.”

“I am. In a good way.”

The ‘good-way’ day was over for me. Almost. Four mattresses and one box springs lighter, I’m leaving but not before City Manager John Caulfield leaned on the open driver’s window and said he’d recently returned from the Pentagon and there had occasion to reminisce with a fellow soldier with whom he had been stationed during their Army days at Ft. Lewis.

“He mentioned your father,” Caulfield said. “He thought very highly of your dad. Thought you should know that.”

I did need to know that. And though the compliment comes all the way from the nation’s capital, it doesn’t surprise me.

Locally, dad was all about community.

Like yesterday’s event sponsored by the city.

Sometimes I admit, as one of my favorite authors Louis L’Amour writes, I “r’ar up all teeth an’ talon.”

And sometimes I’m “about as friendly as a grizzly bear with a sore tooth” (L’Amour’s novel “Tucker”, pp.9, 46 respectively).

It’s because sometimes it does not appear that the ends justify the means, but when they do it’s cause for pause and parade-like celebration.

Of community.

Because it matters.

This last weekend’s ‘parade’ as an example.

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