Beware the robot dinosaur

By From page A6 | October 18, 2013

Once again, the robot dinosaur has come to my house in the early morning hours. I dread these visits.

The city of Davis sends this monster to eat the leaves off the sidewalk, instead of just sending humans to pick them up as they do in normal places.

That is fine, I guess, but the robot dinosaur is unbelievably loud as it goes about its business. I can hear it coming from several blocks away. By the time it’s come to my cul-de-sac, I am wide awake and gripping the sheets.

The robot dinosaur isn’t shy. It sidles up to a pile of yard trimmings, hiccuping and roaring its approval. Then it consumes the leaves and branches with a sound like a train derailing. My entire house shudders. I am always sure that it’s ripping up the sidewalk as it feeds, but after the sun comes up I look, and no, the sidewalk is still intact.

Too bad for the robot dinosaur, half the leaves I put out for it have blown away in the intervening days, because the city of Davis wants me to dump them directly on the ground instead of putting them in a bin, as they do in normal places.

If you ever catch a glimpse of the robot dinosaur in the predawn light, you will notice that a man is sitting astride it and controlling it, just like in “The Flintstones.” This is to prevent it from flying off to a remote tropical island and breeding with others of its kind.

By employing the robot dinosaur, the city of Davis appears to be going out of its way to protect rare and unusual wildlife, and I applaud that. But I wonder if there isn’t a quieter and more effective way to collect leaves.

Don Frances

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