Regret a garbo


Rusty garbage can lid

Do you remember this?

Desolie mentioned the good old days, on a day I’d just discussed them with Dad.

As businesspeople, our beliefs have deep implications for how we operate.

To optimise same, I’d like to know:

  • Were the old days actually good?
  • Are these days better?
  • If not, can we go back?

It all began with the garbage truck …

Concrete data

Dad and I were chatting on his terrace.

Having put a smashed concrete planter in his wheelie bin, he worried the ‘garbo’ wouldn’t take it.

As heavy vehicles approached, he wondered if each were the garbo.

I said that in the good old days, the garbo always came at the same time every week, and that today’s outsourced contractors were all over the joint.

Monster truck

Some time later, a deep roar murdered all other sound.

‘That’s the garbo’, said Dad.

A leviathan hove into view, its dwarfed driver leaning out to peer at Dad’s bin.

With a shriek, a mechanical claw swooped, plucked and tipped the bin into the bowels of the beast.

The speed and force were so great, I expected the bin to vault the road and slay a knot of schoolchildren opposite.

Back blocks

‘Well, Dad’, I said. ‘You needn’t worry about bunging that bloke’s back with your blocks!’

Dad replied that in the good old days, there were three men to each truck: runner, tipper and driver.

I added that when I was a child, our garbos recognised me and were friendly.

At xmas, Mum left cash and a thank-you note for them.

In our letterbox.


‘That was before the drugs came,’ said Dad.

And though Doncaster wasn’t a noted 60s hotspot, I knew what he meant.

Time check

Driving home, I listed conditions that would have to exist for the good old days to return:

  1. Public ownership of sanitation services.
  2. Job satisfaction.
  3. Job security.
  4. Reduced (or no) key performance indicators.
  5. Trust.
  6. A sense of community.
  7. Egalitarianism.

I seem to recall these used to exist in our society.

Yet time can colour our thoughts.

I also remember that dogs, kids, rust and wind wrought havoc with old tin bins.

Future shock

And so, my questions anew:

  • Can we rekindle the best of the past?
  • Should we?
  • How?

Or is the way we presently do business the best?

Dump your brain,

recycle memories

and glean fresh insights



| Founder & Senior Writer – The Feisty Empire

  • Well, having inspired the discussion, guess I should add something :-)

    Being a small-town girl and now living in a semi-rural area where ‘community’ really does exist – and means something – I most miss the warmth, caring, interactions, customer service and respect from my ‘good old days’, that often seem to be lacking in today’s business world.

    Don’t get me wrong: I love the convenience of technology that I experience every day,but regret that I don’t get to say even ‘Can I have…please’ when I catch public transport.

    I believe that our interactions and relationships provide balance and sanity in my life; smiling at robots or machines is nowhere as pleasant or uplifting.

    Will it all change? Probably not, unless something cataclysmic turns our world upside down, on its side, or inside out.

    But as individuals, we can each inject respect, friendliness and humane-ness every time we speak to another person (arrgh! even on grumpy days?). I trust I’m imparting those qualities to my grandchildren, so that they can flourish in a world that will be as vastly different from mine, as mine is from my 100-year-old Mum’s.

    BTW, it was always a bottle of beer for the garbo in our community. They must have had some very merry christmases, now I think about it :-)

    • Well, now I know how to extract even MORE beaut content from you, Desolie! As if you don’t already give enough …

      Public transport. Now there’s a rant I haven’t had!

      Decades after the events, I STILL can’t get my head around sacking tram conductors and train station staff; forbidding you to ask drivers if you’re on the right route; adding ticket machines that won’t take paper money; hiring guards to crush your face to the floor when you can’t buy a ticket and dispatching armed police to depopulated transport infrastructure to prevent rape and assault. Would it not have been better to just leave things as they bloody-well were?!

      I like your approach, and suspect it may be the only way forward (i.e. back). I wonder if others have more ideas.

      Thank you very much for inspiring and sharing in the same week! You’re SUCH a keeper! 😛

  • G’Day Paul,
    It doesn’t really mater mate. We’re stuck with what we’ve got. But in general, I’m not to keen to return to those “good ole days” when

    Australia was rampant with prejudice and sectarianism
    God was always on the side of the “Big Battalions”
    Collingwood regularly won premierships
    The majority of Australians called England “The Mother Country”
    Women were actively discriminated against in the workplace
    A University education was available to only a tiny percentage of high school graduates
    There were few opportunities for individuals to start and run their own businesses
    Contracting whooping cough, diptheria, scarlet fever, polio and many similar childood diseases was effectively a death sentence
    Hitler, Stalin and their ilk could effectively enslave nations and wantonly murder millions
    Cocaine was something we read about in stories about film stars and jazz musicians

    I do miss grenadine flavouring in a malted milk. In fact I miss the good old malted milk itself. But at least I can look it up on Google. It’s true, I did see the great John Coleman play. The Bombers could certainly do with him today. But he’d probably be identified as a child prodigy by the Institute of Sport and end up representing Australia in volleyball.

    You’ll be pleased to know that in my adult life, I’ve even left Christmas gifts for garbos. My father did so too. But in those ‘good ole days” he was always worried that some rogue would “pinch” the gift before the garbo turned up to claim it.

    Could you believe that one U.S. client calls me “the curmudgeon from Down Unda” In the good ole days he wouldn’t have been able to pronounce curmudgeon let alone spell it.

    And I wouldn’t have had overseas clients.

    Just have fun Paul. Tricking the garbo’s a good start.

    Best Wishes

    • Are you vying for equal billing or something, Leon? Your amazingly detailed trip down Memory Lane filled my mind with discussion tangents. I won’t be surprised if our readers start taking them right about … now. Thanks an oversized truckload and hoo roo! 😀

  • Malcolm Owens

    As I walk through the wind swept desolation of modern society I think back to days gone by when life was free and gay. And back then happy was all that meant.

    The freedom of the school holidays that extended before us like an abyss, seemingly never ending where every new day presented endless opportunities and no commitments other than being home before the street lights came on.

    The endless hot days around the pool and the distinct smell of hot concrete when pressed by a shivering, water logged body. No slip, slop, slap other than the clumsy handling of a can of RC Cola with the contents hitting the ground and instantly evaporating into a sugary haze.

    The days started early and went late with daylight saving heralding the after dinner activities serenaded by the cicadas as we eagerly anticipated the approaching Christmas gift fest. The longing for that ‘special’ present was palatable.

    The Christmas holidays spent away in a caravan, running and swimming all day, the barbecue dinner with friends and men standing around in Piping Hot shorts and paisley body shirts and the women in floral sun dresses juggling Tupperware on the way to the communal eating area.

    A few too many cream sherry specials and the joking talk of sexual prowess for later in the evening that us kids weren’t meant to understand.

    Back then a new car was a thing of beauty and pride, something special to be admired and loved. The new XA Falcon station wagon with the dicky seat in the back for the 4 kids was the talk of the park as was the ability to take three weeks off without the need to ‘check in’ with the office.

    Half the holiday was spent discussing the trip up, the balance of what lay ahead on the way home. What now is a 3 hour trip up the Hume was then a 5 hour, 2 stop, hope the car makes it major event.

    Nights were spent sitting around the largely unnecessary camp fire listening to the adventures of our half decade older cousins while sipping a stubbie that really did taste terrible. Before finally falling asleep in the somewhat comforting warm, mildly musty smell of the canvas annex.

    Plans for the following day included floating down the river to the bombing hole and convincing mum and day to take us all to the local pub for a counter meal followed by a Splice or a Big M.

    Not that I miss the good old days, but they really were good. And I have just bought an old caravan to see what can be done about turning back time …

    • Inspired by Desolie.

      Fanned by Leon.

      Owned by Malcolm.

      I’ll not sully this archetriptych of talent with anything more than WOW and THANKS for the memories!

      :) 😀 😛

  • Big Ms, Splices (yum!), home by dark, long school holidays, 3 guys on the garbo truck, tram conductors – ah the memories of Melbourne!

    Should I add piles of burning leaves every Autumn, 20 cents of lollies, sitting the back of station wagons with cousins and family parties around the pianola?

    A mix of some old and some new would be nice if you’re taking orders, Paul :)

    • I was an Icy Pole man myself, though I always felt the pull of the Mister Whippy (Wippy, Wippee, Whippee etc.) van. The agony of catching that first strain of a stretched and tortured tape of ‘Greensleeves’ far up your street – then having to find Mum in the garden and beg for money (usually a 1 in 10 shot).

      Then race along the liquefying asphalt (no time to grab your thongs – which you couldn’t run in anyway; and there was no smashed glass on the roads then) with the other kids until the vehicle finally stopped round the corner. In retrospect, I reckon that damn driver kept us in his mirror just long enough to fix the idea of scarcity firmly in our young minds.

      The autumn leaves! We hadn’t heard of composting. Or mulch. Far better to punch holes in a 44 gallon drum and burn the bastards. I recall a battleship’s worth of smoke filling our rich neighbour’s entire front yard and multi-car garage and turning circle just as his friends arrived in their BMWs. The revenge of the poor migrants!

      Speaking of battleships, they were THE best lolly. And yes, 20 cents went for ever and ever. The little hand-drawn cards in the milk bar. 3 for a cent. 2 for a cent. 3 for 2 cents. 1 cent each. The CPI slowly marching over our tiny economies even then.

      What a flashback, Tash! Thanks for joining us. I’ll meet you trembling with terror at the edge of the high board at the public diving pool. But watch out! The last kid hasn’t cleared the drop zone and you might hit him … :)

  • A great share from @KatriK (in Finland):

    Katri is a font of fab stuff and well worth following. :)