Guest Services at the Garbage Dump
Not long ago I rebuilt my back deck. And by I rebuilt my back deck I mean my father-in-law and much more tool-savvy son rebuilt our back deck and I yelled helpful phrases like RUN THERE’S A BEE and IS IT TIME FOR A SNACK BREAK YET?
But I digress. One of my main roles in deck building – in addition to alphabetizing the nails (I’m still pretty sure my FIL was giving me busy work) – was to transport all discarded materials to our city’s Waste Disposal and Recycling Center, commonly known as the dump.
I’d never been to the WDRC, but because ours is a city that believes in justification by recycling, I was confident there would be rules. So I dutifully checked the website to get a look at their hours, the materials they would take and wouldn’t take, and whether there was a snack bar. Surprisingly, I found the website to be pretty helpful (not an easy task for a government account), so that should have been my first clue that I was in for an unusual experience.
When I pulled into the WDRC, I first had to weigh my trailer so they’d know how much to charge me on the way out. I drove onto the scale and talked to a faceless voice from the other side of the tinted glass. The voice was nice as far as faceless voices go. When I happened to mention that I was a dump newbie, she moved into First-Time Garbage Guest mode:
“Great! Here’s what you’ll need to do: follow the signs that say ‘hand unload only.’ When you get to that area, you’ll see a couple of guys that will tell you exactly what to do. And when you finish, you’ll come back here to weigh again and we’ll settle up your charge.”
So I did. And they did. And even though the website said that employees weren’t allowed to help unload my trailer, those guys pitched in to help, made small talk along the way, and answered my questions about some old paint cans that had been taking up space in the garage, should I decide to bring them back.
When I drove back to the weigh station, I told the faceless voice that I would be making another trip later that day. Again, she jumped into hospitality mode: “Great! Just hang onto your receipt, show it to me when you get back, and I’ll use that as your starting weight.”
If this were a Yelp review, I’d say five stars. Would dump here again.
Here’s what my city dump got right:
- Clear information before I arrived. Their website was relatively easy to navigate, explained the process in detail, and gave me the confidence that I was going to know what to do when I got there. Compare that to a recent trip to the DMV, where I had to interpret the short codes for the forms that I needed, the blood samples I should bring along, the lock of hair from my first grade teacher, and translate it all from Elvish, and you can see the difference in ease of use.
- Helpful personnel who knew when to give extra attention. Just saying the words “first time” made both the faceless voice and the two attendants jump into action to help me figure out my new surroundings. The only thing that would’ve been more helpful is some sort of cue for me to let them know that it was my first garbage rodeo. But because I spoke up, they helped out.
- Clear signage from start to finish. No matter where I turned, I saw signs that kept me from feeling like an idiot. I knew where the hand unload station was compared to the lift station. I knew where yard waste went in comparison to construction debris. But because signs don’t replace people, the people were also available to interpret the signs.
- Neat and organized. Can you say that a garbage dump is neat? But it was. Sure, it smelled like trash. Yes, there were occasional puddles of unidentifiable things that I didn’t want to step in. But the attendants at the general dumping grounds were sweeping up dropped debris and the recycling stations were full of carts organized by item.
Now let me ask you, dear reader: if a garbage dump can get the first-time guest process right, how much more should our churches strive to get it right?