Strange, big, lumbering machines that roll slowly and feature huge circular brushes. The ones I used to see in my childhood were white affairs about twice as high as a car, so that you couldn't see the driver. The driver sat on the right, as if he were an Englishman, the reason being he could see the side of the road better. The vehicle would fire jets of water into the gutter and spin its wild whirly brushes, leaving the street much cleaner than before.

Because of my fascination with science fiction, it always seemed to me that the street cleaners would be the perfect vehicle for defending the earth from alien invaders, provided of course that the water jets could be turned up to spray those extraterrestrials with ammonia or some other household chemical that would cause their bodies to melt.

Along with the traditional street cleaners, many North Americans often see city workers riding on mobile vacuums. These machines make it easy for sidewalks to be cleaned, especially after events that generate a lot of garbage like music festivals, street parties, fairs and rush hour.

The vacuums are about twice the size of a golf cart, only solid and the driver sits up high. A large tube that arcs over the driver is connected to a sealed storage area and the driver aims the tube at garbage while driving. Refuse is then sucked into the vacuum and never seen again.

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