On My Way (Working for Duncan Disposal)
Growing Up Separated—Fun at work, Duncan Disposal
I haven't had many jobs in my life; I'm pretty diligent when it comes to working to make a name, and then keeping it stable. When things get old, and or are just tiring to a point where it's not worth it to me anymore, I move on. That's what brought me to work at Duncan Disposal. I was a garbage man, and at first, I thought, "Well, fuck it, I'll be making a lot more than I do now" (Working at Jimmy Johns at the time). But then it got to "God damn it, another 70hr work week and I got shit to show for it." Along the way, I gathered a few good stories, and I worked with more than a few interesting people. Doing routes all over the place. Some days I would be gone from 5 am, till 8 pm... Sometimes I would get off work around 12 pm. It all depended on the route I was doing, and if any other trucks needed a loader to fill in. I was a loader if you hadn't guessed. On the bright side to all of the shitty work I had to do, I got pretty built. I went from an easy 135lb, to about 150, and all that I had gained was straight muscle mass. I felt great, smoked a lot, but ultimately, I was always in a good way... right up until pay day. It was a fixed rate, so no matter how many hours you worked, you got the same paycheck week after week. At least I got to see some really cool places all over the state. I don't recall a good few of the EXACT locations of where I worked at, but I can describe the places pretty well. It's funny though cause one of the most gorgeous places I went through was Hell, Michigan. Gorgeous landscaping, lake side views, and there was this really cool little storefront that was kind of like a landmark to the city. We would stop in there every time we were out that way. Some really gross people out there too though, here's a good one for that line though.
Hell. Some beautiful back roads, gorgeous lake side homes, wonderful people BUT, deep in the trenches, behind all of the beauty, lies some pretty nasty shit. Being the loader I had to deal with all of it too, one of the worst set of stops was also a REALLY dangerous place to be in shorts and a tank top. It was a shame cause it was also one on one of the most beautiful lake sides I had seen. This guy's house made it look like a shit hole though. Downhill on a winding dirt road, we came up on the flat section, lined with pretty nice homes. The street split off into side roads that ran down to the boat access. Mind you, It's hot as fuck out, I've been on the job since 5 am, and running the route since about 7 am. We've hit roughly 500 stops so far, I've fallen off the back of the truck while we were speeding down a dirt road, which really wasn't all that bad cause I caught myself and dirt surfed down the rest of the stops down that road. Anyway, tired as fuck, sweating my balls off, I REEK like the worst kind of decaying... like dead for a few weeks, laying in the back of your mouth kind of stink... and we roll up, on the most beautiful lakeside, just for me to have to dig into this trash can, pull out a bag that ends up RIPPING mid throw and spreading out all over the street. Of course, I had to sweep it up and throw it all back into the truck BY HAND. There were maggots all over, broken glass got me pretty good, heroin needles EVERYWHERE, the inside of the can was the worst though. It was so bad, ruling with toxic bacteria to a point that THE CAN WAS MELTING AWAY like it had sulfuric ACID draped down the inside corner. The person we were picking up for had left us a few cans of pop in a container next to the driveway, which was nice, but they were scorching hot. I could have burned your skin with the can kind of hot. Surprisingly enough the cans hadn't exploded in the container, or on the driver and I.
I never puked on this job, wanted to a few times, but, couldn't do it. I've seen a lot of NASTY things, in the lesson that was; You really get to know a person when you have to dig through their trash. GROSS. I've also met a lot of really nice people, who genuinely care about the well being of garbage men. People who understand and respect the hard labor that is done by them. I even got tipped 100 bucks on one of our routes through some of the better-looking neighborhoods in private communities. There was this one old woman who would be waiting for us, every time we ran the route she was on. She would come outside with a box full of treats, a cooler full of water bottles and soda, once, she even brought us a home cooked meal. Freshly warmed. Chicken and yellow rice, fucking delicious. Every so often she would throw out 5 dollars and the driver and me would switch off on who gets to keep it. One week, ONLY happened once, I made an extra 300 bucks on top of the 486 I was pulling in for the regular work week. That was the one time, I can actually say that I got paid for the job I was doing. Cause it is, a REALLY shitty job to have but, nobody else wants to do it soo, that's kind of how it had to be you know?
I helped a few of my friends into this job as well, they were both down on their luck and we all needed the money... why not get it together and try to make something that lasts? It didn't work out that way in the slightest but, we did have a blast working together. Most days, we would have separate routes. I think there was only one day all 3 of us were together, but me and my buddy Josh had the best routes when we worked as a team. When that happened, we were usually running recycling routes, which were pretty clean for the most part, and REALLY long; But, we were so quick working with each other that we could literally RUN through an entire subdivision, throwing bins and cans, and get everything back to the right house without missing a beat. Josh and I always worked well together, no real conflict in mind, just good work ethic, and smart thinking to get the job done faster. I remember this one route me and Josh were working together, it was probably one of the last ones we rode on. Beautiful neighborhoods all through the ride, sun was out but not blazing, and there was a cool breeze through the ride. We were rearing up on the LAST STOP of our ride, and I was shocked but, nothing had gone wrong that day. Usually, I would get cut on something, or chased by raccoons, dogs, SOMETHING would put me in harm's way... but not that day, it was kind of suspicious too. Well, we got to the last stop, nice 2 story home at the end of a long winding street. The load wasn't too intense, few cans, easy lift, a bigger, blue can that had the rollers on it, wasn't too bad either. There was also a few 6–8ft 2x4's that we had to load up, and a ton of bags that were lined around the curbside. I had packed down the load and cycled through the levers to compact the trash, then walked over and threw some of the boards in the back. The driver had started throwing bags in, we loaded up the blue can and started the tilt. I threw in the last of the boards, long ways, dumb. As we were running the cycle, I was not paying attention in the slightest. Pushing on the board and tossing the bags aside to make room, next thing I knew, I hear a loud SNAP and get clocked in the face with a 2x4. Didn't hurt, was more shocked than anything. We finished up the load, and went back to dispatch, laughing hysterically the whole way there.
Nick on the other hand, while he worked hard, he was not the brightest, and or most driven. Out of all of us on route, Nick was the first to get let go. I don't remember why but, it wasn't too pretty when it happened. Josh got let go too, a good while afterward, his was a little more fucked up though if you ask me. As usual, we showed up, on time, clocked in, BUT, before Josh could even get onto a truck, the manager climbed up in his ass and gave him the boot. We met up before I left for my route and, because there was nothing I could about the situation, I left Josh with my car, and told him that we would figure out a solution after I finished my route. So, I got a call while we were running the routes, it was Josh. He took a nap in my car, seeing as there was nothing else to do, and almost suffered a heat stroke. Panicked, I rushed through the rest of the day, probably the fastest 400 stops I had ever done. Still wasn't sure on how we were going to fix up Josh's job situation, but at least I had solace in knowing that my dude was ok.
I still to this day consider Josh more like a brother than another kid on the block. His parents will always have an unrealistically foul taste in their mouth whenever they see or hear about me from some of the dumb things we got into when we were much younger, but none of that matters to me really. I will always look out and do what I can to put more options on the table. This is just another interesting taste on some of the work life I have been through. With plenty more to come as well, Please, keep reading.
Written and lived by: Zachery Lee
This is part of a series. Read the main series of "On My Way" over at Families here!
About the author
Just a loner kid who's been through some things in his life. I have mountains of stories to tell, not all of them clean... I hope that my stories inspire, and maybe even teach you a bit of something about life.
Proceed with caution.