Adventures at the Dump: 13 April 2008
Immediately after dropping the 'F bomb' I knew I
had made a huge mistake. And I was right. My worst fears were realized
when the man I was arguing with heard my comment (which was delivered
while I was walking away from him, not directly to his face, not that it
really matters, but I digress…) and kicked me out of the Richmond,
California transfer station. Now I was stuck with six 32gallon trash
cans full of soil in the back of my neighbor's truck. It was around 3
pm on a Sunday, I had already spent 4 hours digging and loading said
soil and all I wanted to do was get home take a walk with PJ (our
4month old baby boy, pretty much the best little guy ever!) and Mom to
the park.
It all began when I pulled up to the cashier to pay
for the right to dump the soil. By looking at the six cans in the back of
the truck she estimated I had 1.5 cubic yards of material. This, of
course, is impossible since 1 cubic yard equals about 200 gallons and my
six 32gallon trash cans only totaled 192 gallons. As I explained this to
her she noted that she did not posses the facilities required to verify
such a statement so the manager was brought in.
Jorge Flores (510.714.4812) looked at the bins in the
truck and confirmed that I should be charged for 1.5 cubic yards. I
should point out that the minimum charge is for 1 cubic yard and I have
often brought much less and paid this full amount. I informed the cashier
that I still didn't agree with their estimate so I was told to pull
forward, out of the growing line of trucks, to discuss my volume of dirt
directly with Jorge.
After about 5 minutes I began to get frustrated. If
someone doesn't believe that 1 cup is 8 ounces, what can you do? I tried
a different approach, telling Jorge that I had recently bought 1 cubic
yard of mulch and it all fit within these same six cans, with room to
spare. Nope. Perhaps intimidation would work. I told Jorge that I
wanted his name and the name of his manager. After writing the
information down for me he said that he was willing to measure the load so
we could calculate the volume. Hmm, "Do you know how to calculate the
area of a circle?" was followed by no response. "These are cylinders, not
cubes, you can't just multiply the length times the width times the
height" was also followed by a response, but not to my question. At that
point I steamed off in an opposite direction and dropped the bomb.
That sure got his attention. I was kicked out.
Actually, he told me I couldn't dump here then drove off. I walked up to
the cashier and tried to pay for the 1.5 cubic yards but he had radioed
her not to accept my money. What to do? I now had six 300pound bins of
dirt. Taking them back home and trying again the next day seemed to be my
best option, certainly better than trying to find another dump on a Sunday
afternoon or simply illegally dumping it somewhere in Richmond. Instead I
drove into the heart of the dump, towards the transfer station, not sure
what to expect.
Jorge saw me coming, and as I approached the building
he found the biggest worker around and told him something. Bobby asked me
for my receipt and told me I couldn't dump the dirt without one. I told
him I was sorry, that I had made a mistake, and asked if I could do
anything to make the situation right. Jorge showed up and, quite
unexpectedly, Bobby spoke eloquently of forgiveness and noted that "we all
make mistakes sometime". With Bobby present, I apologized directly to
Jorge and again repeated my offer to do whatever it took to make things
right. After quite a bit of talk about respect a tape measure was
produced and Jorge and I agreed that the height of the dirt in one can was
about 2 feet and that the diameter of the can was about 1.5 feet.
Using his pen, on the same piece of 5inch by 3inch
paper that he had written his and his managers name on, I wrote the
following equation:
Volume = 6 x 1/4 x pi x d^{2} x h where
6 = number of trash cans
1/4 x pi x d^{2 }= area of a circle
pi = 3.14, the ratio of a circles circumference to its
diameter
d = diameter of can
h = height of can
Using our agreed upon values of d = 1.5 feet and h =
2 feet I did the math while he and Bobby watched and came up with 24 cubic
feet. Jorge acknowledged that my 24 cubic feet was less than the 27 cubic
feet in a cubic yard and allowed me to dump but only after more talk of
respect. As it turns out, I got home in time to take PJ to the park with
Mom and we had grand time pushing him in a swing. That night however, I
was still so wound up about the event that I drank 3/4 of a bottle of wine
(a huge amount for a light weight drinker such as myself). Em noted that
this was equivalent of 3 or 4 glasses of wine. I disputed this, grabbed a
piece of paper and began converting milliliters to ounces…just kidding.
About the last sentence that is, not the rest of the story.
Five days removed from 'the bomb' I can't remember if
Jorge ever apologized but as the days go by, I care less and less.
Immediately after the event I planned on writing Jorge's manager, Tom
Gracie (510.815.1319), to first admonish Jorge for trying to overcharge me
and then to praise him for talking with me after he kicked me out. I have
yet to contact Tom, and have no desire to get Jorge in trouble, but would
like something good to flow in Bobby's direction. Perhaps I'll mail this
story to Tom. In future trips to the dump, I'll bring some sort of
documentation showing the conversion between gallons and cubic yards, and
if that fails, I'll go straight to the formulas. This event has taught me
a valuable life lesson, nothing intimidates people like math.
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