Monday, July 20, 2009

HELP US, MAYOR R.T. RYBAK!!! Phone Book Dumpers Show NoMi No Mercy...

Photos By Jeff Skrenes

As I mentioned in a previous post about the "One Man Minneapolis" pageant, I spoke to Mayor R.T. Rybak at the event about how modest reforms to stop unwanted phone book dumping are having no impact. Trucks full of phone book dumpers appear to have no "opt out" lists at all. They simply drive along throwing books WHEREVER and a couple days ago even delivered a book to a vacant lot...

(Parody in the paragraph ahead)

Jeff Skrenes, a.k.a. "The Hawthorne Hawkman," physically recovered from his injurious, near-death encounter with the "Dumpinator 3000" and now possessing super mutant powers, fired off a missive to me about a recent confrontation with evil phone book dumpers who hit the Hawthorne Neighborhood a few days ago, making their crappy "deliveries" at OBVIOUSLY VACANT houses with, duh, boards on the doors.


Here, exactly as it was typed up in "the case files of the Hawthorne Hawkman," is Jeff's firsthand account...

I was leaving my place and I saw a person dropping of Yellow Pages phone books. Out of curiosity, I decided to drive up and down my street to see if they had left phone books at vacant properties. Surprisingly, one place with boards on it did not have a phone book there. But the next vacant house, which had several stickers, a realtor lockbox, and numerous OTHER rotting phone books on it stoop did have TWO phone books there. It was a duplex, after all.

So I grabbed those two phone books and chased after the van. I caught up to it and threw the phone books in the open hatch - it was stopped, so this wasn't like some wild police chase, although that would have been cool.

(JNS says: yeah, like yesterday when me and a friend chased a john and a prostitute from 2700 Morgan Ave. N., SO COOL!!!! Anyway...)

That's when the lady driving the van saw me and got out. I told her she was leaving phone books at vacant houses, which she completely denied doing. She also questioned why this was a problem.

Well at that point, I stopped talking and I started shouting.


She then started to yell, "Police! Police! I got a man yelling at me!"

"Yeah, get the police over here!" I yelled. "And I'll tell them how you're LITTERING! Now go back on your WHOLE ROUTE and make sure you don't have ANY PHONE BOOKS AT VACANT PROPERTIES!!!"

Well just then her partner came back around the corner and wanted to know what was going on. It was pretty much the same conversation, only louder. He even said, "How am I supposed to know if a house is vacant? I don't go in and look in the windows."

"Well you CAN'T look in the windows because they're BOARDED UP!!!" I yelled. "And if there's a lockbox on the door, it's vacant. If there are stickers on the door, it's vacant. If there are TEN OTHER PHONE BOOKS ON THE PORCH IT'S VAAAACAAANT!!!"

"Now," I continued. "I'm going to call my neighbors up and tell them to be on the lookout for phone book littering. So you need to go back on your WHOLE ROUTE and pick up ANY PHONE BOOKS you left at vacant properties. And we will be WATCHING to make sure you don't do this any more."

Oh, but it got better. Another truck pulled up and asked what the problem was, and I explained (this time, more calmly). They first said that phone books on a porch were GOOD because it makes it look like people are LIVING THERE.

Yeah, right. In the BIZARRO UNIVERSE.

(JNS says: I want to strangle! I want to hit! I want to SCREAM!!! SCREW YOU, YELLOWBOOK!!!! I HOPE WOODPECKERS RIP OUT YOUR EYES!!!!)

Then they said, "If it's such a problem, why don't you go around and pick up the phone books yourself?"


The other folks shook their heads at me and drove off. The phone book people got back in their van and actually turned around to double back on their route.

Mission accomplished.


The Mortgage Geek said...

Hawkman addendum: I followed them for a bit and they did go back on their route while I was around. But I had to get back to the office.

About an hour later, I drove around Hawthorne and that's when I took the photos. Even after being emphatically confronted, they continued to drop phone books off at vacant properties - including at a VACANT LOT.

And then on Saturday, a house that was previously vacant but secure, had two phone books on the porch and was broken open.

Yellowbook, stay out of Hawthorne!

Katie said...

A good friend of mine delivered phone books last year. I asked her about this.

They are NOT SUPPOSED to deliver phone books to vacant houses. In fact, there is a code they take down for 'vacant' -- and they STILL GET PAID FOR THAT DELIVERY. If they attempt a delivery, and someone says, "Oh, I have too many all ready - take it back!" they STILL get paid for it.

So why all the dumping? Lazy?

If you ever see a phone book being dropped in a mailbox, that's a federal crime.

Also, they're very specific about how the books are placed. Like, at the hinge-side of the door, to avoid any foot injuries.

Ed Kohler said...

Katie, I think the delivery policies vary greatly by company and contractor. Minneapolis residents (and vacant homes) receive 3 different yellow pages every year whether we want them or not (or don't exist to even have a say).

The Mortgage Geek said...

Update: I just got off the phone with a manager for Yellowbook. We had a good conversation and he seems committed to sending someone out either Tuesday or Wednesday to pick up Yellowbooks from vacant properties along this carrier's route.

I'm not going to publish his name or number since for the time being, he is cooperative. But let's watch the Yellowbooks at vacant houses in Hawthorne and see if they disappear by the end of the week.

JNS Reader said...

Can't we organize some sort of public phone book bonfire, something to draw some media attention, maybe put a little heat on the phone book companies to seriously change their policies?

I know what you're going to say - a bonfire will just waste the already wasted paper and release carbon dioxide, but I don't think a public phone book recycling drive would have the same "oomph"...

Molly MM said...

I was just reading up on the post regarding phone books from May, and I have to repeat the question of a fellow reader- how is this not littering?? I swear, this is my biggest pet peeve- someone leaves small bundles of coupons and other garbage several times a week. I'm picking them out of my flower borders regularly. That's annoying enough, but huge stacks of phone books are really going too far. I do not even have phone service in my home! I also did some math and found that I received enough phone books to have one in every 300 sq.ft. of my home. I'd like to know why this is not trespassing or littering?

The Mortgage Geek said...

Well, I don't think you could call it trespassing, unless you want to make it so that everybody who tries to do community organizing via doorknocking and flyering is a trespasser as well.

I think that at the LEAST, leaving a phone book at a vacant property should be littering.

I'd like to organize a massive day of action where we collect all our unwanted phone books and bring them back to their respective distributors. I bet we could fill a few pickup truck beds with unwanted phone books in Hawthorne and Jordan alone.

Now THAT would get some big coverage!

JNS Reader said...

I like it.

Jordan Neighbor said...

Mortgage Geek, I also like the big bonfire approach.. let's do it.