Over the past six months or so, the city’s Department of Public Works has missed my recycling pickup five or six times. That’s not a disaster, just an inconvenience. Crap piles up outside my house, each time we finish a bottle of milk, I get a little more nervous, the dead-tree version of the newspaper starts to feel more like an indulgence than a necessity, and there’s some anxiety about whether the department will get it right the next time.

The lapse recurred this week. Tuesday is my recycling day, and nothing. My blue container was in the same spot at night that it was in the morning. So I left it out there on Wednesday; same result.

This morning I encountered a DPW agent in a pickup making his way down the street, and unloading the barrels of my neighbors, who’d experienced the same problem. I carted my bucket down to where he was working, and we tossed my recycling in the back of the pickup.

He explained that the driver was new and just missed the last half of the block. As I was walking away, he said, “I’m sorry about this, sir, and we’re working to make sure it doesn’t happen again.” Talk about turning a negative into a positive.