• Picking Up

  • On the Streets and Behind the Trucks with the Sanitation Workers of New York City
  • By: Robin Nagle
  • Narrated by: Mary Kane
  • Length: 7 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars (23 ratings)
adbl_ms_membershipImage_includedwith_altText_B076FLV3HT
adbl_ms_membershipImage_includedwith_altText_B076FLV3HT

1 title per month from Audible’s entire catalog of best sellers, and new releases.
Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Your Premium Plus plan is $14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $19.95

Buy for $19.95

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

America’s largest city generates garbage in torrents - 11,000 tons a day on average. But New Yorkers don’t give it much attention. They leave their trash on the curb or drop it in a litter basket, and promptly forget about it. And why not? On a schedule so regular you could almost set your watch by it, someone always comes to take it away.

But who, exactly, is that someone? And why is he - or she - so unknown?

In Picking Up, the anthropologist Robin Nagle introduces us to the men and women of New York City’s Department of Sanitation and makes clear why this small army of uniformed workers is the most important labor force on the streets. Seeking to understand every aspect of the Department’s mission, Nagle accompanied crews on their routes, questioned supervisors and commissioners, and listened to story after story about blizzards, hazardous wastes, and the insults of everyday New Yorkers. But the more time she spent with the DSNY, the more Nagle realized that observing wasn’t quite enough - so she joined the force herself. Driving the hulking trucks, she obtained an insider’s perspective on the complex kinships, arcane rules, and obscure lingo unique to the realm of sanitation workers.

Nagle chronicles New York City’s 400-year struggle with trash, and traces the city’s waste-management efforts from a time when filth overwhelmed the streets to the far more rigorous practices of today, when the Big Apple is as clean as it’s ever been.

Throughout, Nagle reveals the many unexpected ways in which sanitation workers stand between our seemingly well-ordered lives and the sea of refuse that would otherwise overwhelm us. In the process, she changes the way we understand cities - and ourselves within them.

©2013 Robin Nagle (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

More from the same

What listeners say about Picking Up

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    12
  • 4 Stars
    5
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    2
Performance
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    11
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    2
Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    8
  • 4 Stars
    4
  • 3 Stars
    4
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

I couldn't get through this one

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

It's not the book that I couldn't take - it was the narration

What do you think your next listen will be?

Something similar, just not with this narrator

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Her voice was not my taste and her cadence was very distracting for me. I couldn't even hear the story, all I could hear was her talking.

What character would you cut from Picking Up?

The narrator

Any additional comments?

Disappointing. I've heard/read similar books about the inside scoop on hotels and restaurants. I really looked forward to enjoying this as much. Unfortunately, I've tried every month or so to listen PAST her voice...I just can't. I give up!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Seemed interesting

What did you like best about Picking Up? What did you like least?

It seemed like an interesting topic as I knew nothing about how sanitation operates. However, it turned out to be a snoozer. IMO, it went into too much history of sanitation for my taste.

What three words best describe Mary Kane’s voice?

No problem with the narration

Did Picking Up inspire you to do anything?

man up and finish the book

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

tougher than it looks

Never occurred to me so clearly how much the sanitation department does, 365 days a year. From taking away the garbage, to keeping the streets clean, to plowing the snow. We should applaud these folks everyday for performing an essential service that most of us wouldn't go near. Lots of great stories and tidbits about what it is like to collect the garbage, clean the streets and make the snow disappear. Similar in arc to Kitchen Confidential, but without the sex.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A DSNY MUST

Absolutely loved it, a must read for anyone interested in being a Sanitation Worker

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Unusual topic, very well done

I would have never thought a writer would embed herself so deeply in a sanitation department. But the level of commitment shown by the writer is exceptional. and it results in a book that tells a multifaceted story about the routines of NYC sanitation workers. I gained more respect for the NYSD, even though I didn't look down on the work the way a lot of citizens do apparently. if you like learning about offbeat subject matter, this might be for you.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Not down and dirty, to flowery.

What disappointed you about Picking Up?

Robin Nagle's writing style may be ok for a romance novel, but way to ostentatious for a trash book.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Diarmuid
  • Diarmuid
  • 08-24-16

Mr san man bring me a dream

Well-constructed story that goes deep into the details of the history and administration of sanitation in NYC. Some parts may not be for everyone (e.g. long descriptions of the byzantine bureaucracy of the DSNY) and the performer's intonation often sounds weird and robotic.