Throughout its illustrious history, the city of New Orleans has had many firsts – corruption firsts, perpetually last in public education firsts, flooding firsts. But one first has always evaded it, has always remained elusive.  That is until now. Now, New Orleans can declare itself the first city whose tooter smells just like its rooter. The first city to be pervasively pungent.  The first city whose stench has left its trench. In short, New Orleans is now the first major American city to smell like ass.  The garbage issues grow in New Orleans.

Step outside. Flare those nostrils. Take in a deep breath. Inhale the un-fresh air. It hangs there, doesn’t it, like the whole city just spontaneously farted.  

Black trash bags and overflowing garbage cans line the curbs, marinating under the hot, humid sun. Birds hover above, keeping their distance. Even racoons walk by holding their noses.  Some of us have watched two cycles of maggots transform into flies. The flies hatch and buzz around territorially. Some of them are approaching the size of a knuckle. It’s probably not safe to let your kids play in the street.

At one of those unproductive City Council meetings, one of the owners of Metro Service was asked what’s up with the trash. In these unsanitary times, his response was appropriately funky. He said that all of Metro’s customers had received one trash pickup since the storm. And this supposedly happened while we were all evacuated. That was called out as lies and garbage, by a citizen of course, not a Council member.  

Apparently, unbeknownst to the owner of Metro, some of us didn’t leave for the storm. Some of us actually stayed and watched the trash pile up and the flies begin to swarm. Some of us even saw this for what it was – the continuation of the trash just not being picked up in this city. 

We were told that this was due to a labor shortage. Yeah, that tends to happen when your workers go on strike. We were told by the mayor that we could pack up our trash and bring it to the landfill ourselves. Naturally, that didn’t go over well. Now, alas, we have a new solution.


Operation Mardi Gras, to be hence known as OMG. Under OMG, a rolling band of public employees will adorn the back of trucks costumed as garbage men. It promises to be a very festive affair. Feel free to clap, cheer, and wave them on as they pass by.  

Here at Think 504, we’d be remiss if we didn’t advise you that typical Mardi Gras rules do apply. Keep all items six feet from the curb. And under no circumstances are you to show these people your boobs. Well, you can if you want. But they have nothing to throw to you except trash.  

Late last week, Metro trucks did pick up the trash. They rumbled up the streets sparking the same type of heart palpitations we felt when Entergy finally appeared after Ida. And we were left with the same initial disappointment. When all was said and done, the Metro hoppers only took what was in the can, which meant the majority of trash still remained on the curb when they left. Outside the can trash is apparently the responsibility of OMG. In the name of competency, you would think that this would be coordinated. Right after the Metro trucks roll out, the OMG trucks roll in. But nope. 

Coordination is so lacking that at the aforementioned unproductive Council meeting, Metro and the mayor’s office couldn’t even say or agree on how many homes haven’t had their trash picked up. So as a result, Metro apparently just sent their trucks out to pick up trash like it was an ordinary day. Feel free to throw your hands up and scream OMG. 

Maybe this is all a game. Maybe this is all a part of a conservation experiment where we citizens are forced to get a first-hand look at the amount of trash we compile. In the end, after we’ve been nasally insulted and physically discomforted, we’ll have gained a new appreciation for our sanitary footprint and work to reduce it in the name of global warming. Who knows, stranger things have happened. In the meantime, though, expect patience to wear thin and more trash to be piled up on the curbs.  

3 thoughts on “Lies, Garbage, And Operation Mardi Gras”
  1. Excellent article Kenneth, and great humor too. I couldn’t stop laughing. but I have to ask why in 2021, FEMA which responds to disasters year round across the nation, act as though this is their first time out of the gate. When are they going to get their act together, and when are our elected leaders going to demand that they do. FEMA knows just as we do that there’s going to be a lot of debris and trash following a severe hurricane, but yet they are so slow with mobilizing crews to pickup debris and trash. FEMA is so slow is ushering in aid to the people who have been impacted. FEMA can take a page from Entergy’s emergency response plan and do better. Electrical restoration crews from all over our region are staged up and mobilized as soon as they are given the go ahead to begin the process of restoring power. They work simultaneously in the impacted areas at great risk to their own safety. Power began to be restored approximately two days following IDA in New Orleans east, four days in my neighborhood. That was a small inconvenience. I’m no fan of Entergy; I have my issues with them too but give credit where credit is due. It is the organization, mobilization and execution of their emergency response that I extol. My pastor recapitulated in his sermon last Sunday morning that citizens are given ample warning that we are likely to lose power as a result of these storms and urged to make preparations but many of us fail to heed the warnings. A wise man once said “we don’t plan to fail, we just fail to plan.” FEMA gets an “F” again. We are still void of proper coordination between our federal, state and local governments and this is unacceptable, reprehensible and wholly inexcusable. When we’re in an emergency the people need and expect leadership to deliver in times like these.

  2. I must say this is a talented writer.
    I think we need to remind ourselves that this is indeed a 1st world problem. Every business is suffering from a wage shortage and until we’re willing to go back to municipal provided transportation and we’re willing to pay for it we’re going to get more of the same. And to be paying drivers under $14/hour when they can do road construction for $50 to $70 an hour is tone deaf. And the other issue is the state’s requirement for lowest responsible bid. You can’t do that and insure folks are paid the right wage and provided benefits. I won’t disparage Jimmy, but he and Richards and Sydney should make certain their wages are competitive and their work culture is supportive and recognizing everyone including outside labor, the equipment is something to be proud of and always updated. These things work together to keep retention high. This is difficult to do cutting corners and shaving pennies. Having said that we did just get lights on. And add to that there was a petrol shortage. Not that this issue doesn’t need to be fixed, but our expectations are a bit irrational considering what we just experienced. Does anyone not remember the stores barely had items and staff. Because sanitation workers quiet as it’s kept are humans. So, we’re all clear Richard’s is our contractor and we’re missed too. Not sure why Jimmy is getting all the heat. We are effectively at 1 pick up a week with a contract for 2. I also think the recycling is just going wherever, but I have no proof of that. And psa some of us are concerned about the trash in our driveways and curbs at the same time we throw cigarette butts, gum amd candy wrappers, cold drink bottles, food bags, diapers you name it out of your car windows. Tires everywhere. I helped someone change a flat in Gentilly and they wanted to leave the tire on the street. Don’t get mad when it’s in fron your door and you’re spreading it around the city and under the bridge and during 2nd Lines. If we care about the trash let’s care about it. Last thing we only pay $3 a pick up.

  3. R.S.

    Your comments while on point leave out a particularly troubling concern. While you reference the bidding process you didn’t mention the fact that other companies don’t appear to be impacted by today’s economic reality as much as Metro. The low bid mandate on paper sounds great but just like civil rights, voter rights, takes litigation and enforcement to make it work. Since Metro is having the biggest service issues, did they bid too low for the job? If they did that is their problem not the cities, it’s time to move to enforcement and/or litigation. Our politicians grandstand their complaints re: Entergy’s shortcomings when are they going to do same with Metro? And why hasn’t been done yet ?

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