Miguel still remembers the ice cream truck back in Portugal, when he was in high school.
You could hear it coming waaay before you could even see it, from that circus tune it would play over the speakers, while making sure to drive just next to his school’s fence during recess.
Of course, that haunting and eerie tune that would plague the air ended up claiming a solid spot in his memories growing up as an adolescent. And he didn’t even like those damn ice creams.

Anyway.. after all these years (Miguel is almost 43-years-old now), he couldn’t help himself but to remember that truck again…
It was some months ago. We had just arrived in Taiwan, and it wasn’t long until we found out about one part of the local daily routine. As it turns out, Taiwan has their own breed of musical trucks, but maybe a less pleasant one.. since we’re talking about their garbage trucks.

Yes, Taiwan picks up their residents’ trash to the sound of classical music. During our two months on the island we took out the trash quite some times, but most days it’s very common to either see one of these yellow (or green) trucks passing by on a city’s main streets, or just to hear its song blaring out somewhere in the background as you go about your life. The only song we heard was the polish “A Maiden’s Prayer” — the one that goes “🎵 tu-tu-tu-tu-tu-tu-tuuu 🎵 da da da da-da 🎵 tu-tu-tu-tu-tu-tu-tuuu 🎵 da-daa da-daa 🎵” — but we were told that it used to be more common to hear Beethoven’s “For Elise” (that one goes more like “🎵ti-tu ti-tu ti-tu ti-tu-tuuu 🎵ta-ta ta-taaa ta-ta ta-taaa 🎵”).
Whichever song plays the most, it just goes on and on and on, so we’re pretty sure every garbage truck man and woman in Taiwan appreciates very much being given yet another reason to hold the urge to barf on their workplace… poor dudes and dudettes 😐

You may be asking yourself, “why would the garbage trucks play loud classical music while doing their rounds on the city streets? Is it for the entertainment of the people? Or maybe it’s a government strategy for boosting the Taiwanese musical taste?”
Well.. nope. Though those would be cool too. But it’s basically because in Taiwan there are no big smelly trash containers in corners everywhere around the city. People just keep their trash at home, and everyday at a specific time the garbage truck trucks along its fixed route, playing its classical tune. Residents hear it from inside their houses, and just bring their garbage bags outside on the street, throwing them into the truck themselves, or handing them to the worker riding on the back of the truck. You’re not supposed to let your garbage touch the ground outdoors, for hygiene reasons (probably the same reasons which made Taiwan want to prevent having garbage containers all around its cities).
It’s funny because coming out to the street and taking out the trash sometimes ends up being another reason to socialize with your neighbours.

Of course, Taiwan’s careful attention to garbage disposal doesn’t stop at organic trash. Every city has fixed days for recycled garbage disposal, and the residents are aware of what kind of trash should be brought out on what day. A worker in the back of the truck will do a quick survey of each person’s bags and sort whatever’s necessary.
Unless, of course, the person in question is a dumb foreigner who doesn’t know how to recycle… 😔 SAD

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