Shadrick Edmonds, a supervisor of Lexington's Division of Waste Management, said he doesn't let it get to him that garbage men are often underappreciated.
"I've learned to know what to expect from my job and know what my job expects from me," Shadrick said.
But he and his coworkers had their day Monday, when Mayor Jim Gray, flanked by waste collectors in uniform, thanked the waste management workers for their service to the community. The group stood in front of three garbage trucks in the parking lot of Crestwood Church. A sign stretching between two of the trucks said: "National Waste Collectors' Day; Thank You For All You Do."
Every week more than 180 Division of Waste Management employees collect waste, recyclables and yard waste from homes and businesses, according to a news release. They have more than 225,000 points of service throughout the city.
Other speakers addressed the group, and then Gray slipped on a bright yellow vest and hopped onto a garbage truck for a ride-along on Bellefonte Drive.
Susan Straub, spokeswoman for the mayor, said city officials heard about the national day and wanted to express appreciation for people who do a difficult job.
Edmonds, who used to drive a garbage truck before being promoted, said he was thankful for the recognition from the city. He said he loves serving Fayette County residents and misses driving the truck.
"I enjoyed communicating with the residents," he said. "I just felt a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day."
When he got involved in the industry, Edmonds said, he didn't know much about it.
"I'm a public service person anyway, so it fit well with who I am," he said.
David Jett — who drives a knuckle boom truck, which is used to pick up debris after storms and collect used mattresses — also appreciated the recognition.
"It was always firefighters and police officers that got recognized for the work that they've done, and we never was spoken of," Jett said. "Now, they recognize us and I think it's an honor to be recognized."
Gray's ride-along let him see what the men and women experience daily An impatient driver honked and drove around them.
Gray said Edmonds didn't react negatively. When the mayor asked how often the trash-pickup crews encountered similar situations, Edmonds told him it happened often. When it does, he just takes a deep breath and thinks about the value of what he is doing, Edmonds told Gray.
"It was an inspiration to me to see how routinely these guys are so disciplined in their work that they condition themselves to accept often disappointing attitudes," Gray said afterward. "But they pick themselves right up, and they move right along. And that is a huge tribute to them."