An article by Fort Wayne Public Works Director Shan Gunawardena last Sunday addressed, among several topics, the difficulty city trash hauler Red River Waste Solutions faces in hiring and retaining drivers.
But online journalist Dave Bangert's story about a West Lafayette sanitation worker who just retired after 32 years of picking up trash is a vivid illustration of the tough work involved.
Street Commissioner Ben Anderson told Bangert the modern-day record for shortest tenure stands at just 37 minutes.
“That guy came in here, got on the back of a truck and got a whiff of that smell, all that juice starting to run, getting sprayed with it,” Anderson said. “Then he's out there lifting those cans, a few hundred pounds worth, probably. It's work. It's nasty, nasty, hard work. Even 37 minutes of it.”
West Lafayette's Brian Claxton did the work for decades, collecting more than 100 million pounds of garbage, by Anderson's calculation. He endured two back surgeries along the way.
“There's nobody going to do what he's done – forever. It's just hard freaking work,” the street commissioner said. “B's a legend and a champion.”
If he misses the work, Red River could certainly use him.