Mooping the poopers with a crack cleanup crew
I’ve been looking forward to working with DA for a while. He’s the cleanup (I mean, Playa Restoration) guru, make no mistake. That’s him, driving around the desert with a giant magnet chained to the front bumper of his truck, sucking screws and nails out of the dust. There he is, explaining what a burn scar looks like and how best to deal with it. And he’s definitely the guy who, way back in early August, used to stand up at our morning meetings and announce, “25 days to cleanup!”
DA describes Black Rock City like a living being, as Natalie recently pointed out to me. He talks about allowing the playa to restore itself, and how we can help. He tells his crews we’ll spread across the city like a virus to attack the trash. It’s common knowledge around here that the desert has a life of its own, but I think few people understand that better than DA does.
…It’s one of those things that just has to be done: the portable toilets had been moved away, and someone had to clean the spots where they had stood. So, we did. We rolled up the tarps that had protected the ground, then used rakes, brooms, and shovels to break up the dirt. The rest was just your standard, garden-variety mooping – but, you know, with more toilet paper involved.
Of course, that’s not all we found. The playa was rife with little gifts for us, most of them somewhat redolent. Someone at 2:30 and Delirium left us these lovely jugs. Gray water? Urine? Who can tell! But they looked pretty yellow to me. Thanks guys, I’ll think of you fondly.
Anyway, we all had rubber gloves and dust masks to wear, which made me feel a lot better about picking up all the junk. We hit all of the toilet sites along the city streets, and then headed out to the outer spots. And I’d just like to give a little shout out to the Gate and Greeter crews, who left us no trash at all! No trash! Thanks, Pearl et al. I wish we could say the same for the Johnny-On-The-Spot camp…
Ol’ Johnny provides a wonderful service for us, and they have to deal with things that you and I don’t even want to think about. But they left a horrible, horrible mess at their campsite. We spent hours picking up crusty old towels, digging shovelfuls of blue dye and toilet paper out of the ground, and scooping up broken bottles and pop-tops. We also had to pull some bolts out of the ground – both at JOTS, and at the police station.
We finally finished everything as the sun set, and we all rushed back to Gerlach to wash away the kitty-litter smell. It was a little harder to shake off the people calling us Poop Crew at dinner. But you know what? It’s done. I won’t have to do that again for a while. And to tell you the truth, it really wasn’t that bad.