This is the first installment in The Weather’s new career spotlight series, Titans of Industry.
His name is Lenin MacGarbageleesh and he pilots a garbage barge. Some speculate that the moniker is self-styled, but weirdly that is not the case. His surname foretold his occupation, and it foreclosed on all the others like the flat, brown teeth of a truck-borne trash compacter, except in this case, on a barge—the barge that is his heritage, his namesake, his passion, his prison.
A typical day on the barge: You get up, you brush your teeth, you burn some fucking trash. You pour quebon on your cornflakes and treat your pounding head with a case of Molson Golden. When you’re done, you whip the empties at the fire. That’s the kinda trash you want to burn. How do bottles burn you ask? They don’t. They shatter. They turn to sand. Then, in the heat of the blaze, they turn to glass. Then you fill ’em back up. How do you fill ’em back up? You pee in ’em. Same thing. It’s called recycling. Lenin likes recycling. But his bread and butter is garbage.
He is leashed to the garbage. Leashed, it seems, for all time.
He is circumspect.
He has been known to crack wise.
They call it the sea, but the funny thing is, you can’t see anything. Not when you are burning a tonne of trash a day.
He is Canadian and speaks as he spells, with a merry yeoman’s lilt, the past a pit still sticking in his craw.
The barge with its smoke is a tall black column, an ominous rook on the horizon, like God himself, turding in the Hudson.
By some cosmic joke, all toilets flush onto the barge.
Like a great bazaar, a body could find anything—the rarest treasures; invaluable kitsch—were it not burning ghoulishly forever into ash.
Campaigns to rescue Lenin all end before they’re mounted.
This is because they’d have to get within smelling range—a risk too great for anyone.
We prefer to think of him waving to us through the noxious fumes.
Just knowing he is out there, we feel safe.
Seth Blake is a writer from New Hampshire.