Wilco Ticket Contest 7th Entry

IMG_0181, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

“While it’s not exactly inside my house, there is a special place in my
heart for the trash can, on the corner in front of my house in
Columbia Heights/Petworth-ish neighborhood. Last January, I received a citation from the Department of Public Works, sent via certified mail, indicating an alleged misuse of a public litter receptacle with a $75 fine. Attached to the citation was a “digital picture” of a
piece of junk mail with my name on it in the trash can, and a
photocopy of the evidence, I mean, envelope. Interesting. I learned
that DPW employees are paid to go through the trash looking for
identifying information (mail, dry cleaning receipts, luggage tags) so
they can ticket residents for throwing away personal trash. Awesome
that you can be ticketed for actually throwing trash away, never mind
all the litter on the street and the dirty mattress next to the trash
can. I did go to court, won the case (DPW was a no-show), and ended
up at my real favorite place in my neighborhood, Wonderland’s patio,
for a sweet celebratory happy hour. Moral(s) of the story: 1) Don’t
put anything with your name and address in a public trash can in DC.
2) If you are the vindictive type and want to get back at someone,
this seems to be a fantastic method. 3) DC has some silly rules. 4)
Wilco rocks.”

9 Comment

  • Oh my god. That tops the list of “ways DC tries to annoy it’s own taxpayers.” So, I am thoroughly confused. What exactly is the purpose of those trash cans, if it’s against the law to put trash in them?

  • Welcome to the Hood! Where throughing crap on the ground is free and actually throwing stuff away will cost you. I have been mentally daydreaming of setting up video cameras to catch the little punks who toss junk food wrappers with abandon! Seems there is a misdirected work force available to make my mad plan work.

  • I’m with Jamie-

    This is a great new example that I can use when trying to explain to outsiders that DC is a strange little place indeed.

    So, what IS one allowed to throw in the public garbage cans if not… trash?

  • Not to stand up for the city’s inane policy but what they’re *trying* to do is admirable. If you’ve ever seen someone put his entire week’s worth of trash in a public trash can (which is, technically, illegal dumping), you can see why the city is against “mass dumping” in what should ostensibly be used for your gum, empty soda can, etc. Its sad that the city has to legistlate to the lowest common denominator (those that abuse public resources) but quite common.
    Glad DPW no showed in court….not really all that surprising, I guess.

  • That’s unreal. First the picture: Not so unreal but certainly sad as all hell. But second, your fine is disturbing. You pay for people to go through your own garbage and promote the ease and ability in which an individual could obtain your identity.

    “Here, we found your shit. This is how we did it. Go”

    Meanwhile, our actual streets remain cluttered with cigarette butts, random flyers and pizza coupons.

  • …used condoms, every kind of beverage container, dirty baby diapers, anything that help junk food snacks, styro foam clam shells…sometimes I think people in my neighborhood decorate trees with plastic grocery bags! It gets too depressing to look at.

  • This happened to me with a huge mattress and mounds of trash from a contractor in my alley who illegally dumped (see a discussion a few months ago about it), except I got fined $1000 cause a box with my name on it was found nearby. Went to court and won, though (with no problem)

  • What makes this even more outrageous is that, when I live next to the Russian embassy compound on Wisconsin Ave., I would see a guy with MD tags stop and take two big black bags of trash out of his trunk and stuff one in the public trashcan and leave the other on the sidewalk — right in front of the embassy! And he did this almost every week for months! If DCDPW went through his trash it took a long time to do anything (if, indeed, they did do something). Maybe the law only applies to DC residents.

  • People are going to dump their trash somewhere so its better to promote the use of trash cans than deter them. This practice, although good intentioned, should be using its efforts else where. How about enforcing litter laws or better yet, contracting people to pick up trash around the city?

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