|One of the new trash "cans"|
Walking home today, I was shocked to see a trash container on the Champs-Élysées. In fact, I saw not just one, but several, where there had been none before.
For many years, there have been no trash containers of any kind on this avenue. Trash containers are plentiful elsewhere in Paris, but they had been entirely removed from the Champs years ago, by a government inspired by the example of American cowardice. Apparently politicians felt that the imaginary bogeymen haunting the thoughts of their friends across the pond would abandon their nefarious plans for the destruction of society if they discovered that there were no handy trash containers in which to conceal their improvised explosive devices. (I guess the bad guys would never think of hiding something in, say, the hundreds of cars parked freely along the avenue throughout its length.)
Whatever the reasons, trash containers had long since disappeared on the Champs. The pedestrians who crowded its broad sidewalks day and night had no choice but to throw trash directly onto the ground. The city was spending some €750,000 a year on continuous, all-day cleaning of the avenue by city workers and subcontractors. It now seems that someone has finally been able to face down the irrational fears and restore hygiene to one of the world’s most famous streets. It’s about time!
In the olden days, the trash containers were closed, cylindrical affairs, brown in color with gold tops, and moderately fashionable. Today, they are just simple metal frames holding clear plastic trash bags boldly marked with vigilance propreté (“vigilance [and] cleanliness”). I gather that the clear plastic would allow passerby to see and promptly report sticks of dynamite or blocks of plutonium or other suspicious objects in the containers. It’s not very aesthetic, but at least it’s a bit cleaner.