A dirty job, but someone has to do it

Published 5:41 pm Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Ever wondered what goes on in the day in the life of a garbage collector?  For most of you the answer is no.  As part of a “day in the life” series that the Advocate is working on, I thought it would be interesting to jump on the back of a garbage truck to learn about the occupation and see what the job requires.   Oh boy, that was an experience.   Aside from the job requiring me to rise and shine at 6 a.m. to be greeted by the aroma of garbage – it’s a tough job.

Most of us wash our hands of garbage as soon as we set it on the curb.   If you’re like me, you throw garbage in the trashcan and forget about it until the garbage truck makes its weekly route through your neighborhood.   You pull the trashcan back to its usual spot and start the disguising routine all over again.    We all do it – dump leftovers from dinner, broken glass, dirty diapers, kitty litter and pretty much anything else that will fit into the garbage bag.    Tomorrow is garbage day, and the stinky problem will soon be gone.   Not really.  Trust me, the scent of your filth lingers.   My brief stint as a garbage collector took place a week ago and the scent (and sight) of your garbage has been forever etched into my memory.

Sanitation workers put in five-day-a-week shifts, picking up approximately 4,000 city trashcans, traveling up and down our streets while dodging impatient drivers.    These guys deal with the forces of nature as well – working in extreme hot or cold conditions, rain, sleet and snow.  Aside from the job being physically demanding, dangerous and stinky, it’s a thankless job.   But Greenville City Sanitation refuse collectors Darren Peagler and Eldrick Lowery make sure the city’s more than 40 tons of rubbish gets from our trashcan to the transfer station each week.

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I certainly have a greater appreciation for what these guys do each and every day, and will certainly be more mindful of what I stuff inside my garbage bag.  The saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” isn’t always the case.  One man’s trash can actually be downright frightening.    It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it.  I’m thankful for guys like Darren and Eldrick that help make sure our city stays clean free of garbage.