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A day in the life of a garbage man is, in this city, exactly that: garbage. At least that’s how Wilson saw it, and he figured he should know.  The city elders had hired him, indirectly of course, through a series of middlemen, bureaucrats, and armchair dictators, to keep the city streets clean. That was twenty years ago, when he had been a young man fresh into adulthood, shy but excited about life. These days he was less green, more shy, and his sense of excitement had faded. He had always been lanky, but over the years, lean had turned to wiry, his bright blue eyes had sunken, and his dark hair had begun to go. He rarely thought about it, though. He lived his life in days, not years.

Though he had changed over time, the job had not. He had a very specific route each day. On Firsts, he would take High Street and Lowel, then cut back across Hubertson and Yaffek. On Seconds, it would be Georo and Iron Lane, which was long enough to fill his entire day. Eight days a week, he was out picking up the bins that the people left for him and the random litter and animal leavings that seemed to come with it. The occasional body he found would be left for the Peace. He kept a notebook for them, marking each location for later examination and retrieval,  though he knew that it usually just meant an unceremonious pickup by his counterparts in the Violent Crimes Unit.

It was hot, sweaty, and smelly work. His nose had shut down in self-defense years ago. He could no longer smell anything less than the most penetrating of odors, and his tastebuds had suffered greatly for the loss. Worse, the stench permeated everything, his clothes, his skin. It seemed impossible to remove. So each night Wilson went home alone after a very long shift, ate bland food he couldn’t taste, bathed for a couple of hours with the hope of removing the stink and the soreness, and then slept until it was time to do it all again.

He would have liked to have said that he enjoyed the work all the same, that it kept him active and got him out of the house. He would have liked to have said that it afforded him the chance to meet people and see the city. But Wilson lived and worked in the Miner’s Quarter of Denid. It wasn’t as bad as things were over in the Black with its soot covered streets and constant smoke, but the Miner’s Quarter was certainly not known for its architectural beauty; it had been built with utility in mind.  His fixed route meant that the few interesting sights the Quarter presented were either not available to him on the job or had long since faded into the mediocrity of the familiar. He fared no better with the people, as the miners and workers that made up the majority of the population tended to be likewise utilitarian, for the most part keeping to themselves or always busy. The job itself hurt that aspect as well, of course, compelling people to avoid him or completely ignore him. He was out there among them every day, but with only a few exceptions, he was known to none. No one looked at the garbage man. No one cared. For them, anyone that spent that much time dealing with garbage may as well be garbage too.


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