Monday, 10 December 2007

Rockin' Around The Wheelie Bin

I thought I had Christmas under control (and by that I mean that I've strung up the fairy lights and put the wondrously tacky Singing Christmas Mice on the mantelpiece). But a jolt this morning has sent my mind a-festive-boggle.

There was a ring on the doorbell. Great, I thought, it'll be one of the books I accidentally-on-purpose ordered by pressing 1-click on Amazon. But when I opened the door there was a bin man standing on the pavement a few yards away, fag-in-mouth, sack-in-hand: "I just wanted to say Merry Christmas," he said, and gave me a cheeky wave before throwing the sack in the van.

I said 'Thanks!' and shut the door, and got that awful feeling you get when someone says 'I love you' and you can't say it back. (When I say 'awful', obviously it's slightly worse for the person who's feeling the love.) They had caught me unawares - I haven't even done my cards or bought the tree yet, and here suddenly was a new Christmas dilemma: do I tip the bin men?

Feeling alone in my fretting, I asked Google. Lo and behold, it's actually a proper problem to have, it's not just me! There are online forums filled with comments like "yeah, I'll give them a tip - stop going through my rubbish or I'll brain yer!" and "if you don't tip them, they'll tip your rubbish - all over your front garden!" and "bin men are really well paid so I see no reason why I should", and also "It's a tradition in this country, and one which I intend to uphold - come on, we haven't got many traditions left, and this is a good one."

I suppose it is a good one, as traditions go, but then I started thinking about the service they provide: on the one hand, I am really glad that someone else does that for me, because phew do those things stink; but on the other hand, every Monday they leave this enormous, usually wet, wheelie bin right outside my front door instead of in the place they found it, leading to a very awkward pushchair v. wheelie-bin face-off. So I am not really feeling the Christmas love for them. Should I lie and tip them anyway, hoping they'll give me a better service next year if I'm generous?

And where does it end? Do I tip the postman? (There's a different one nearly every week.) What about the poor sods who put pizza leaflets and cab cards through my door? And say I did decide to tip the bin men, is hard cash the only option? What about a bottle of wine, or some chocolates? That seems more gifty and festive. Slippers? Russell Brand's new book? A novelty bottle-opener?

The final aspect of this dilemma will keep me awake at night - how do I actually give them the tip? Do I run out into the street, babe-in-arms, waving a fiver at them? Or do I leave it in a (waterproof) envelope, sticky-taped to the wheelie-bin?

Perhaps the local council could spend some of our taxes putting together a helpful leaflet about this.

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Ross said...

Apparently in Australia it is traditional to leave a six-pack of beer atop the bins on the last collection before Xmas. I don't know if people still do it but I know a six-pack left unguarded wouldn't last too long in our neighbourhood.

Charlietheduck said...

LOL Em!!! I can't believe he rang on your door! Wow. I've never seen my binmen - luckily I am safely at work by the time they come.

I think the fiver in a waterproof envelope stuck to the bin is the best bet. I would do this, except for some reason Kingston council have yet to splash out on wheelie bins for us!!

LG said...

My god. A tip nightmare. Teehee.

Well, I would be more concerned about which binman to tip? After all, I chat to two or three every week when I forget to put the bins out and run at them at the last minute in granny slippers and a housecoat. I mean is it finders keepers or what? Or do we put out five easily divisible pound coins? But what if there are three binmen? Who gets one pound? And what about the driver? Headache approaching...

Tin of Roses? I daresay that would be safe from robbers :-/

Mum'sTheWord said...

I am currently toying with the tin of Roses idea. Weatherproof, at least.