Talking trash and saving money – the Lone Star State way 5

You may have heard from a reliable source (that is to say, not from me) that the State of Texas hopes to save $700,000 a year in custodial costs by having about 20,000 state employees dump their own trash.

Yup. The Texas Facilities Commission, which manages hundreds of buildings for the state, just replaced a whole bunch of old-fashioned desk-side trashcans with fancy-schmancy combo trashcan/recycling bins. When they’re full (the containers, not the employees), state worker bees will take a short, invigorating walk to what the TFC calls “conveniently located central collection stations” to dump them.

Not only will this save the state money, it will also free up custodial staff for other duties, such as raiding break room refrigerators and pretending to vacuum.

This trashcan/recycling bin combo is called – and I am not making this up – the miniMAX. Is it just me, or does this sound like a feminine hygiene product? I wonder if they got this moniker from the marketing geniuses at Apple, who famously dubbed their latest toy the iPad. “Hey, this is Frank over at TFC – you Apple guys got any cringe-inducing product names you’re not gonna use?” “Yeah, sure – how about MiniMAX? Even Steve Jobs gagged at that one.”

I know the state is in deep fiscal fertilizer but I really have to wonder – is having employees dump their own trash the best way to beef up state coffers?  Some other states are raking in a king’s ransom by legalizing and taxing a certain highly popular recreational plant, but not Texas. Apparently, our leaders wouldn’t even dream of actually legalizing the wacky tobacky, but they’re sure not afraid to sound like they’ve been smoking it.

But seriously – saving money by making professionals dump their own trash? Really? That’s the best you can do? The economy tanks and the state is going to ask employees, “Hey, on your way to your second job, howzabout you dump the trash, ‘K? Thanks.”

As fate would have it, the same day I read the article about state employees being asked to dump their own trash, I read another article about our own governor Rick Perry, and how he’s working about seven hours a week (and probably not dumping his own trash).

Where it takes the average state worker 40 hours a week (not counting trips to the dumpster) to get their work done, apparently Perry is so efficient that he’s usually wrapping things up before he goes home to his rented West Lake Hills mansion every Monday afternoon.

If this figure is correct, it means that Perry – who, BTW, pulls down about $150,000 year, and whose swank digs cost taxpayers about $10,000 a month – has 33 hours (mas o menos) of spare time a week on his hands. So I had this great idea – why not have the governator dump some trash?

Under my plan, Gov. Goodhair wouldn’t have to spend all that spare time playing janitor – just a few symbolic hours to show the grunts he’s not afraid to roll up his sleeves and pitch in. And anyway, he’s been a politician most of his life, so he’s probably not accustomed to real work.

This plan would not only send the message to state workers that he feels their pain, it would also show folks he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty. More importantly, it would also give him some hands-on experience in working for a living. And who knows – that might come in handy on Nov. 3.


  1. You did not read the instructions very carefully, did you Jeff? Look closely at the minMAX bins–the tiny black one with the flip lid. See that plastic hook on the back? You probably have it hooked onto the side of your mini-blue recycled paper bin. Am I right? OK, take it and slip the hook onto your belt. Notice how it fits perfectly between your belt loops? Now you see the genius of the miniMAX design. It’s a personal trash can always at the ready. Perfect for department heads to manage by walking around. What could be more efficient than a trash can holstered to your hip? You’re welcome.

  2. The bad news: When I entered my cubicle this morning, I nearly tripped over a bucket containing rubber gloves, a toilet brush, and a bottle of Lysol.

    The good news: According to the latest projection, the state’s budget shortfall has shrunk to a mere $16.97 billion!

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