Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Taking out the trash


I worked hard yesterday. I did a shift as part of a three person crew collecting trash. It was a fascinating day.

Some parallels between trash collecting and orienteering...

Both are physically demanding and reward endurance. An orienteer has to run up and down hills, through difficult terrain. A trash collector has to drag cans and dumpsters to the truck, lift and dump cans, walk/jog along as the truck moves short distances, and climb up and down from the truck for longer distances. And you have to do that until the work is done.

Trash collectors, like orienteers, need to think ahead. On a trash truck it is especially useful to anticipate traffic and pay attention to how you'll move from one task to the next.

Both reward the ability to minimize unnecessary effort. An orienteer is always thinking about trade offs between tougher and easier routes. An orienteer can gain time by running smoothly through the terrain with few wasted motions. A trash collector saves effort by using momentum and dragging cans rather than lifting them.

Both involve route choice. Orienteers make route choice decisions all the time. Trash collectors have to think about the best way to cover the route. I'd never really understood how complicated some of the trash routing problems can be. The routing gets tricky because, for example, you need to think about minimizing exposure to traffic for the crew and you need to deal with constraints like only being able to "cycle the hopper" when the vehicle is at a stop.

Some people say golf and orienteering are the same sport. I wouldn't go so far to say trash collecting and orienteering are the same "sport." But, I was struck by some of the similarities.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:44 PM



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