Chapter 66: Garbage in the Long Peace

Garbage dumpster
John and I may have lived in a Shanghai district called "Long Peace" -- but nighttime was anything but peaceful once we discovered the nighttime garbage collection.

Changning, the district where I live, may be called “long peace” — but there’s nothing peaceful about evenings in our community.

Every night at 3am, 4am or 5am, so, a garbage truck growls outside of our window, its grrrrrrrrrrrr like the overture to this reckless opera outdoors. Then comes the clang, clang, clang signaling the swift climax, as the garbage lands into its final resting place. This nightly drama has John and I restless — literally.

No one else really notices. Our neighbors — mostly elderly, often with three or more to a household, all squeezed into a one-room bedroom, happily subsisting on their pension and doing their morning Tai Chi exercises. “Sure, we’ve heard the garbage truck,” they say with a soft voice. And then they always add this: “Mei banfa — there’s nothing we can do about it.” Maybe that’s because they imagine those hard years in the Cultural Revolution — when they would be happy to say that a garbage truck was the most menacing thing in their lives.

Apparently, in “Long Peace” district, no peace at night is the policy. “All of the garbage trucks in Changning do their collections between 12am and 7am,” reported a worker in the Sanitation bureau.

John and I don’t know what to do. We sure have discovered a rare tranquility in our lives here in Shanghai, Changning District, even if SARS is still a shadow in the background. I have a new job. We live together. And, so far, neither of us have gotten sick.

Unless, of course, you’re talking about garbage trucks — which we’ve been sick about for more than a week.

What daily annoyances have you encountered in China (or other countries)?


Memoirs of a Yangxifu in China is the story of love, cultural understanding and eventual marriage between one American woman from the city and one Chinese man from the countryside. To read the full series to date, you can start at Chapter 1, or browse the Memoirs of a Yangxifu archives.

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