The clock strikes 4 p.m. on Thursday, and the anxious wait begins for Martin Ryan.
The Niskayuna 4-year-old is itching to get outside and start bringing the neighbors’ garbage cans down to the bottom of their driveways.
But his parents make him wait until around 6 p.m., after most people have finished eating and thus have had time to bring the last of their garbage to their receptacles.
At 6 p.m., Martin will march two tall bins, almost as tall as he is, to the end of each driveway to await Friday morning pickup.
“I like the medium-sized ones better,” Martin said. Those are easier for him to manage, he explained.
It’s a routine that Martin has followed for almost two years. It began when he was 2 years old and would sort the recycling, separating the cardboard from the plastic.
By the time he was 21⁄2, County Waste switched its bins to wheeled models, which were manageable for Martin. So he began bringing his family’s garbage to the end of the driveway. It grew from there.
Back then, Martin was much shorter than the garbage cans.
“I think it’s cute; he’s a very well-behaved little boy,” neighbor Mary Ellen Windish said.
Martin doesn’t just take out the trash. Most of his routine takes place the next morning, when he gets up and heads outside as County Waste starts picking up the trash and recyclables. That’s at 6:15 a.m.. He follows the truck and brings the emptied bins back toward the neighbors’ garages.
“There are a lot of senior citizens and people who are almost relying on him to bring in their cans,” Windish said.
The entire operation takes about 45 minutes on Friday morning, another reason why his parents cap the number of garbage bins that he’s allowed to handle. Both of them have to get to work.
“We have set boundaries,” his father, Justin Ryan, said. Martin will do up to 20 or 21 homes, the equivalent of 40 or 42 bins.
“He has become the neighborhood grandson,” Justin Ryan said. “When I introduce myself, I introduce myself as Martin’s dad.”
Martin said many of the neighbors say thank you and appreciate his work. Sometimes, he gets small trinkets or an occasional trip to Stewart’s for ice cream.
But he does it because he loves helping with the waste disposal.
He has loved watching garbage trucks and the waste-disposal workers ever since he was introduced to them when he was 2 and would sit outside to wave at them.
He’s visited the County Waste headquarters and many trash transfer stations.
Some people worry that he’s become obsessed with it, especially since he can easily name six different garbage companies, the different types of containers and how to recycle.
“He’s grown with it,” his father said. “There’s so many things he knows about it.”
Helping with the residential garbage bins is just an extension of that, his father said.
For his fourth birthday, County Waste stopped by his house and let Martin inside the truck.
“I got to pull the arm and push buttons,” he said.
His mother also made him a big cake that was shaped like a County Waste bin. And he now has a collection of garbage bins that he plays with.
Yes, it is his goal to eventually become a garbage man. But he’s really interested in the leaf and yard waste and wants to be on the back loader truck, “where the man stands on the back,” Martin said.
“He has to get off the back every time to throw it in the back loader,” he said. He wants to do it “because it looks fun.”
Categories: Schenectady County