Monday, July 30, 2007

Chris Nesbitt, sanitation worker

Posted By on Mon, Jul 30, 2007 at 10:00 AM

click to enlarge fall_profile1-1_13.jpg

How long have you been with DeKalb County Sanitation? Twenty-seven years this week. I worked on the back for seven years. This is my 20th year driving.

Are you going to have a party? I might. Each year I treat myself to dinner.

How did you get started in the county sanitation department? Actually, one day I was sitting on the porch. I saw a supervisor riding down the street in a supervisor truck. I asked him were the county hiring. He said yes, and I need to put an application in now. Three weeks [after] that time, I was called for an interview. I was hired.

(Photo by Joeff Davis)

How did you get promoted to driver? Back before CDLs [commercial drivers licenses], they were called Class Four. I went to the place that you get your driver’s license. I took a written and driving test, and I got my CDL or Class Four.

While you were on the back, what is the weirdest thing you found in the trash? One experience that really shocked me — even my supervisor don’t know this — a resident had thrown a dead beaver in the hopper, and he was huge!

How did you find the beaver? This was 27 years ago. A guy had him in a trash can, and the can was heavy. [He opened the can and there was the beaver.]

What did you do? I was new, so I didn’t know any better. I just threw him in the truck.

What would you do if that happened today? I would report it to a supervisor, and I guess he would call animal control. To my knowledge, we do not pick up dead animals.

What is the best part of your job? Mmmm … trying to figure that out. I would say driving.

Why? Because coming from the back, that was not a challenge, and to have an opportunity to handle heavy equipment was a challenge.

How is it a challenge? Actually, I would say in maneuvering [the truck]. Riding in a car is average, but when in a vehicle like this it requires a lot of training and skill.

Do you always have the same crew? Lately I have.

Do you guys joke about the trash? Well yes, that comes along with the territory.

What can the public do to make your job easier? If people can cooperate with us [that would help]. When recycling, if people can cut the limbs up within four feet, and not mix logs up with limbs.

What do people do that gets on your nerves? I wouldn’t say "gets on my nerves." But today a resident didn’t have a blue container or a blue bag out. I spoke with her about it, and said it’s like getting a free service. We usually pick it up anyway. If over time I see it continue, I speak with a resident and let them know we cannot continue to do this.

How often do you have to speak with a resident? Not too often. Every once in a while you have people try and see if you can get away with it.

Do they try and get the county garbage service for free? They try to give or have us take away bags with rocks, limbs or rocks in it. This is not our job. We then realize we just dumped dirt or rocks into the truck.

Can that do damage? [It can] put a strain on my men’s backs. [But] we don’t let much get by us.

How can you tell if those things are in the trash? Sometimes we can tell it’s too heavy, so we open the bag.

Have you ever had someone fall off the back of the truck? Yes, unfortunately, I have [had] a few men fall off the rear. It wasn’t a pretty sight.

How does that happen? Negligence on my part or on the part of the rider; [if I’m] going in a curve and he’s not holding on tight. Maybe [I] hit a bump and he slides off.

Have they been severely injured? No one had to go the hospital, but they were rushed to the clinic.

Is there anything specifically that you want people to know about your job? It’s a dangerous job.

Have you had any accidents in the truck? Had a few.

What is the strangest or the most severe accident you've had? In a shopping center on Peachtree Industrial, I thought I applied the parking brakes. I guess I did not. When I got out of the truck I got at least 50 feet, and the truck got coasting downhill. A man in a BellSouth van said, "I think your truck is rolling." Thinking I was Superman, I went and caught the tail end of the truck. And the truck hit a parked truck. I just wasn’t quick enough to get to the truck. No one was hurt. I’m glad the truck did not go into the open street.

While Nesbitt was having his picture taken, he said: I’m retiring in two-and-a-half years. I’ll relax for a few years, then go back into the work force.

And do what? Drive a truck again.

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