My Ride-Along – An experience I will never forget

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My Ride-Along – An experience I will never forget

[/av_textblock] [av_textblock size='16' font_color='' color='' av-medium-font-size='' av-small-font-size='' av-mini-font-size='' admin_preview_bg=''] In my day job, I’m part of the Blue Nation Online editorial team at headquarters that compiles stories and photos featuring employees across the country doing amazing work for Republic Services. I’m fairly new to the Company - just 9 months in - and as part of my onboarding, I was given the opportunity to do a “ride-along” from our Cave Creek Transfer Station in Phoenix, AZ. Here’s a glimpse into what this experience was like for me and what I learned from the passenger seat of a Republic truck.

My day started at nearly 3 a.m. as I arrived at the Transfer Station in the dark. The crew of front-load drivers were gathering and preparing for their routes. I was paired with Front-Load Driver Jose S., a 6-year employee. After his vehicle inspection (where he checked the tires, looked for leaks in the hydraulic lines, and did an all-around thorough job of making sure our truck was safe to drive), we buckled up and hit the road. The cab of the truck was massive with so many controls that it reminded me of an airplane cockpit. I didn’t say a word as Jose was laser-focused on the road. At about 3:40 a.m. we arrived at the back of a strip mall to pick up the first container of the day.  (Normally, I would still be sound asleep!)

As a novice, I expected drivers to be behind the wheel all day, but I didn’t realize the amount of work involved in serving our commercial customers. We often don’t see the waste containers at gas stations, fast-food restaurants, apartment buildings and strip malls because they are tucked away behind gates. This means Jose gets in and out of the cab of his truck nearly 140 times a day to open and close the lids and gates in order to access the containers and service them properly. Getting in and out of these big trucks isn’t easy – even though Jose made it look like a breeze. He said he likes the exercise! We cruised from one container to the next in a maze of streets and alleyways. Jose has his complicated route memorized as we go from one container to the next at an efficient pace.

I asked Jose if it’s hard to start his day at 3 a.m. He said he’s used to it and he tries to go to bed early at around 6:30 p.m. so that he gets 8 hours of sleep. That’s the key to being alert and safe on the road.

After about 40 pick-ups by 5:30 a.m., we headed back to the Transfer Station to drop off our first load of the day. Riding with Jose, it was easy to see that he takes safety seriously and maintains his focus by concentrating on what he’s doing. He’s prepared for anything – whatever the day may bring.

I next had the chance to ride along with Monte F., a seasoned roll-off driver with nearly 20 years of experience. His day is completely different than Jose’s, but equally as strenuous. He picks up between 10 and 15 loads a day, but unlike Jose, his pick-ups take a lot longer and he travels a greater distance. He typically services big grocery chains, department stores and residential customers who have rented large containers for a construction projects. He maneuvers his giant truck in tight areas with a lot of possible hazards. “I am always focused on what’s around me. Are there kids watching? Is that truck too close? I have to be able to see everything,” he says. Monte spends the extra time to ensure it is safe before loading the container on the truck.

Our first stop is at a mall about 15 miles away where we pick up a 20-yard container. Then it’s back to the Transfer Station to dump the load. Our next two stops are at a granite company and scrap metal yard. At every stop, Monte is in and out of the cab and pushing buttons that maneuver the mechanical arms on the automated truck. On average, Monte is in and out of the cab about 12 times per stop. It’s hard work and to prove it, Monte said he wore a fitness tracker to track his steps. In the one shift he tracked 32 flights of stairs and 11,000 steps!

Now that I’m back at the office, I can’t stop thinking of Jose and Monte, making their way through the city doing the important work that they do every day. Thank you to Operations Supervisor Marcos R. for organizing the ride-along for me. And most of all, thank you to Jose and Monte for taking me on the ride of a lifetime!

- Lynn B., Manager, Internal Communications
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