Fresh Kills

What was the worst job you ever had?

Once on winter break during college I took a job with NYPIRG. NYPIRG is a non-profit research and advocacy group that focuses on environmental and consumer protection issues. I signed up to be one of their outreach workers. We were supposed to go door-to-door and collect signatures in support of Superfund cleanup. The Superfund is an EPA program designed to identify and clean up the worst hazardous waste sites in the country. This is all good stuff and I was glad to be working for such an honorable organization. What made this job the worst was that we were sent off to knock on doors in Staten Island in the middle of January. It was dark and freezing out there and the weather was really cold too. We’d meet at the office downtown around 4pm and we’d get our maps and find out what neighborhood we were going to be working in. Then we’d all pile into a van and we’d drive out to Staten Island. Throughout the trip our group leaders would give us pep talks and try to get us to practice our scripts. Driving in and out we always passed by the infamous Fresh Kills Landfill. It’s known the world over for its enormous size, chemical leeching, odoriferous smell and ominous name. I’m sure that we were on Staten Island because of Fresh Kills. NYPIRG must have figured that the people there would have some notion of the importance of toxic waste clean up since they lived so close to a gigantic garbage dump. I found however that the people had already heard enough about waste cleanup to last a lifetime and were not very receptive to a fresh faced college student knocking on their door at 7 o’clock at night. Most of the time I could barely get through the first paragraph of my pitch before the door was being shut in my face again. It was kind of depressing to say the least.


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