Exactly five years ago, we were in Ukraine, three weeks into our five-week adventure for Masha’s adoption. For the next few weeks, I’m posting excerpts and a photo or two from each day. Sometimes funny, and sometimes proof of how naive we were, I hope you’ll enjoy our little trip down memory lane…
This morning, we witnessed one of the strangest aspects of Ukrainian culture we’ve seen to date. There are no dumpsters in/around our apartment building, and it took us some time (and some interesting conversations) to figure out where to throw out our garbage. We finally found that in each stairwell, there is a chute, down which the garbage can be flung. This chute is not quite wide enough for a pizza box, we learned, and on our floor, there is a “pusher” for garbage that gets stuck.
Until today, we had no concept of what happened to the garbage once it was ingested by the Chute. Based on the recent smell in the stairwell, we suspected that it sat at the bottom until even the plastic decomposed. But today, we saw The Garbage Truck.
An orange and white truck appearing to date from Soviet times appeared below our apartment this morning, its top a gaping mouth awaiting a hearty meal of food scraps, used tissues, beer bottles and pizza boxes. The truck was equipped with a hydraulic “ladle” that extended from its underbelly to the service door at the bottom of the stairwell.
At each stop (four in our building), a Refuse Collection Professional opens the service door and begins to scoop. Yes, I said scoop. We watched him alternate between a cardboard box and a rusty metal washbucket, shoveling garbage out of the Chute and into the truck’s bucket. Once all the debris was removed, the Refuse Vehicle Operator engaged the hydraulics, and the
arm raised the bucket high above the gaping mouth, and then tipped to empty into the hungry hole as the truck slowly crept to the next stairwell.
Our apartment is on the 8th floor, and we could smell it all happening.
The weather has now improved to “Perfect.” It was sunny and mid-70s, so we decided to spend 2 ½ hours in the park. Up until today, every time we’ve come to the park, we’ve been challenged with the girls asking to go on ride after ride, and for treat after treat. Today, we had a “parent conference” as we arrived at the park, and decided that it was time for a lesson in responsibility. We gave each of the girls 20 grivna (that’s about $4) and explained that they could decide how to spend it, but that was all for today, and it had to cover rides and treats.
They looked at each other and then began to strategize. We were a little concerned that Khrystyna, being the youngest and a little scattered, might immediately lose her money. But we were happy to be wrong about that. They were all exceptionally responsible, they budgeted their money, rode the rides they all agreed on, and handed their valuables to the Dads when they got on the Crocodile.
They had enough left over to get the ice creams that they wanted (and a couple of lollipops, too), and then they asked to go to the playground for the last hour because they were out of money. No begging for more, no “Pleeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaassse,” no eyelash batting. It was a resounding success, and it gives us great hope for the future.
What did you learn from your parents about money? Or garbage trucks? Leave a comment…