Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Difference Between Britain And America

Last week I was returning to our flat from doing some errands and I came across a crew from Haringey collecting leaves from the footpaths. As they did this, I was recalling the method used by our former home, Montgomery County, Maryland. It involved homeowners raking or blowing all leaves to the gutter, and sooner or later a rather large vacuum truck came along to suck up the leaves. But in our street, it wasn't any such high-tech solution. Rather, a council worker had come along to sweep all leaves into small piles, perhaps three feet by three feet. Then, a standard rubbish truck came along the street, accompanied by a leaf collection crew. Each of the leaf collectors held a flat board in each hand. Two crew members came along, used their boards to sweep underneath each pile, which they collected into their arms. They walked each pile over to the truck and tossed it in the back.

I began to think about this surprisingly elegant, though labor-intensive approach. The boards they used cost nearly nothing, and if they broke, could be replaced easily. It required no fancy equipment that sits idle 10 months a year. In short, they used the tools at hand to get the job done while keeping costs to a minimum. For me, it summed up the difference between Britain and America: a vacuum truck would have been excessive, every bit as excessive as air conditioning, automatic transmissions, or helpful customer service.

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6 Comments:

Blogger oldest kid said...

My YK can't understand why we don't have a leaf blower! We have a mulching lawnmower, and if that doesn't take care of the leaves, then he has to rake. I will say, though, that living in Houston, I don't think of air conditioning as excessive, and, what's wrong with automatic transmission.

10:34 PM  
Blogger Middle Kid said...

As far as I'm concerned, falling leaves are excessive. If you don't have leaves, you don't have to worry about any of those things.

10:44 PM  
Blogger Smitty Werbenmanjensen said...

What's wrong with automatic transmission? You got me. But none of the cars here have it.

10:53 PM  
Blogger Schmutz said...

We have a lot of trees but don't worry about falling leaves - just on more advantage to country living - no raking, no blowing, no mulching. The only problem is cleaning leaves out of the roof gutters.

11:34 PM  
Blogger Edward said...

Still, no cats. When did dead leaves become more important than live cats?

8:22 PM  
Blogger MKOK said...

WHAT IS THIS ABOUT CATS!?!

10:25 PM  

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