- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 14, 2016

ROME, Ga. (AP) - It’s said the eyes are the window to the soul, but for garbage man Geno Thompson opening the lid on a trash can reveals a lot more.

“You can tell a lot about people from their garbage,” Thompson said. “It’s like looking into their lives.”

Working for Rome’s solid waste collections department is a dirty, smelly, physically intensive and at times rewarding job. But sometimes it’s just dirty and smelly.

“Some smells are just overwhelming,” Route Foreman Henry Jackson said.

Imagine the aromatic creation released from opening a garbage can filled with leftover fish remains.

“When you get that sitting out in heat like this, you try to keep your lunch down,” Jackson said.

The smell is only one challenge garbage men routinely handle. Many times workers are battling the elements and moving at a fast pace to complete the service of getting trash from the curb to the truck.

“We’re out there on the hottest of the hottest days, the wettest of the wettest and the coldest of the coldest,” Jackson said. “We’re like mailmen. If our wheels can roll safely, we’re going down the road.”

The bonds forged between garbage men are closer to familial ties than that of coworkers and are integral to efficient service.

“We are a family in this business,” Thompson said. “We only got each other.”

Thompson and his partner, Richard Kroeger, are just like two buddies hanging out on the back of a truck, picking up trash cans.

“We’re the dream team,” Kroeger said.

“Teamwork makes the dream work,” Thompson replied.

From picking up trash and recyclables to junk and brush, the work these men do can be overlooked as many people are never home when crews come by.

“People don’t realize how much they need us until they really need us,” Jackson said.

A day’s workload can be strenuous, but workers rise to the challenge - knowing excuses aren’t accepted by those they serve.

“People want trash gone. They don’t care what you have to do to get it gone,” Jackson said.

The solid waste collections department employs 46 people, and each of them will be recognized on Garbage Man Day this Thursday at the Civic Center.

“We treat them to a little dinner,” Director Donnie Barrett said.

Thompson said a steak dinner would be preferred but not having to pay for a meal is always a plus.

Appreciation also comes in the form of kids waving, homeowners handing out water or simply a “thank you,” he said.

Thompson also finds appreciation in knowing his job is a necessary service and he expects nothing extra in return.

“If you’re doing something to get something back, you’re not doing it for the right reason,” he said.

___

Information from: Rome News-Tribune, https://www.romenews-tribune.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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