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  • Public Agency Safety: A Tribute to the Garbage Man

    I grew up in a small town in North Central Wisconsin. Not saying that I’m completely grown up even today, but that’s where the process started. .Harry Truman was president then followed by Dwight Eisenhower. Everybody knew everybody. You didn’t need cleats or a uniform to play ball. A ball with all the strings on it was prized, and the baseball bat was usually cracked, nailed and taped. The police chief was nick named “Fuzzy,” I never did know his real name.

    A real interesting group was the village crew and most of them had nick names as well. Garbage Man Crackerjack was the driver for the garbage truck. He was a really, really big fella, but had a smile that didn’t quit. If you had something that needed special attention, or something that was really heavy, you just left a six pack beside it to thank them. As the truck drove by we would tease them as the one on the back was hanging on for dear life. We were reminded by our parents that that is something you didn’t want to do for a living, as if there was a stigma about working in that vocation. These guys worked hard in all kinds of weather and usually retired with bad backs.

    All of that has changed since then. The work is still hard, but the idea of working for a public agency has risen, and the career is now a good choice for pay and benefits. The technology is vastly improved and the equipment is better suited to the task. Refuse collection is now a one man job here in our village, and he doesn’t get out of the truck. Education and training is far more important for this generation of public employees, and safety has stepped to the forefront.

    These men and women are responsible for our public sanitation, the way our cities, villages, and parks look, road work and flagger safety, storm cleanup, and water and sewer plant safety, Does anyone know what a Hydro Vacuum Truck is? Then there is the illusive dog bite just lurking around the corner. So many things complex ,and some so simple. There is a myriad of hazards involved in being a part of a Public Agency and all require training, and or licensing for not just their safety but ours. I think about them when I hear the snowplow at 4 in the morning. These men and women deserve our thanks and respect for their dedication. Thank them when you get a chance.

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