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On Sunday, I went to the town transfer station (the dump) to dispose of some old boards that I had loaded into my trailer. The station’s supervisor called the police on me. I do not appreciate being treated like a criminal for going to the transfer station.
I drove into the transfer station and waited for the supervisor to come over to my car, and I asked him where I should put the boards, most of which were half rotten. He said they were not taking construction debris (“CD”) anymore. I asked if I should put the boards in the household trash compactor in that case. He said no, I would have to go home. I suggested that since my debris was all natural wood I could dispose of it in the brush pile. He grew exasperated and asked me, “why do you have to be like this?” And told me I could not leave the boards anywhere. I was also exasperated, and hyperbolically said I wasn’t leaving without putting the boards in either the open CD containers, the compactor, or the brush pile, and asked what was he going to do about it. He called the police.
I stayed and waited for the police officer to arrive because I didn’t want him to think, or me to feel like, I had “fled the scene.” To be honest, I don’t think anyone has ever called the police on me before and I was confused how to act, especially because I don’t view going to the transfer station as nefarious.
To be clear, my grievance is not with the supervisor or the police officer. And I told that to them both and I believe that we were OK by the time I left.
My problem is with the town’s board of selectmen. The board has arbitrarily and capriciously ordered that the transfer station not take CD. The reason the supervisor gave me for this decision was, to paraphrase slightly, “to maintain distancing and protect us [the employees] and you [the townspeople] from infection.”
This makes no logical sense. The CD containers are outside and there’s no reason to come within 50 feet of another person when unloading your trailer. It’s the compactor for household trash where you’re much more likely to come close to another person. Yet the household trash compactors (also outdoors) remain open for use. In fact, while I was speaking to the supervisor and the police officer I observed numerous town residents coming in close proximity with each other and with transfer station employees. I pointed this out and the police officer told me that the distancing guidelines are optional. So the guidelines are optional at the compactor but not the CD containers? This is maddening.
Do we really want to live in a society where you have the police called on you for going to the transfer station? (Even if you get angry and say something slightly bombastic but don’t actually start chucking wood off your trailer in the middle of the parking lot?) It wasn’t exactly fun to stand there being confronted by an armed police officer while countless fellow town residents drove by, assuming who knows what about the reasons I appeared to be under interrogation. The police officer is very professional, but let’s be honest: When the police are called, the threat of arrest (loss of liberty) is always present. We have all seen the videos from across the nation of people being arrested for no good reason: for paddle-boarding alone in the ocean, for letting their children play on a playground, for playing catch with their daughter in a park, for sitting on the beach.
It’s time to fully reopen the transfer station, the rest of the town, our states, and our country.Published in