To me, garbage men are heroes. I’m not talking the flying, muscle bound type in costumes from childhood. But, real men and women without capes, who do real work for the sake of their families and community. Now, that’s a real hero.

My gratitude for them borders on amazement—and I feel they need to hear how much they are appreciated from the public that they serve so faithfully.

I’ve recently started working for American Waste Control in Tulsa, a company that collects trash and recyclables for businesses and residences all around Green Country. Our work starts at midnight and doesn’t generally end until around 6 or 6:30pm.

Every morning when I wake up, there are thousands of customers that will be serviced, at least 100 refuse and service trucks on the ground taking care of business, and the best drivers the industry has ever seen right here in Tulsa.

This morning, as I was driving to work before the sun was rising, I drove by at least four of my company’s refuse trucks that had been up before dawn working. I said a short prayer for each driver I saw and asked God to protect them, keep them safe and help them know how important they are.

Then it hit me like a roll off box full of concrete. The price these garbage and recycling men pay to serve us—even in the wee hours of the morning, while we’re all still comfy under our down comforters. They sacrifice so much to keep our community clean.

Put aside the daily grind of garbage collection. The grimy, disgusting, filth slinging details of the job. Just knowing that our garbage collectors are working hard before any of us wake up is sobering. They are out on the streets, lifting burgeoning bins of garbage, dealing with heavy machinery, climbing boxes to level loads off, facing vicious dogs and maniacal motorists—all in some of the most extreme weather conditions Oklahoma has to offer.

These men are family men who love and care for their wives and children, but often pay a price of working long hard hours to provide a living for their family. They’re working to pay for their children’s college, to continue receiving amazing healthcare benefits for their family, and to deliver great service to our customers because they truly care about doing a good job.

So, here I am four months into the trash business and I’m overcome with amazement. Everyday, when I see this well oiled machine plowing down the track like a locomotive with as much force behind it as you can imagine, and we end each day without a missed service stop, with no injuries, and every one of our drivers and trucks returned to our yard safely and soundly, I am in awe.

I’m truly thankful for the incredible work of our garbage men, and I feel they need to hear how much we appreciate them. So next time when you hear them coming, consider thanking the man who empties your can. They truly are superheroes minus the cape.

They may not have super powers, but they do have more courage and loyalty than any of us will ever know.

by Paul Ross
VP, General Mgr
American Waste Control