It doesn't matter if its raining, snowing or hot as hades, workers whose jobs expose them to the elements have to get the job done. One of those jobs is collecting trash - not the most pleasant of professions. Add in the recent heat wave and the duties of the trash collector probably are exacerbated. However, the trash collectors of Republic have some special customers looking out for them in times of extreme weather.
When the mercury hit 99 degrees, Betty Jean Lee was ready to provide brief relief but delivering the liquid sustenance to the workers took a bit of effort on her part. Lee, who is a senior citizen, was peeling tomatoes in front of her kitchen window when she spied the truck. "They were running from here to yonder getting garbage and all I could think was this is a terrible day for them to be out there," said Lee. She watched the gentleman retrieve a bottle of water from his pants pocket and take a sip. "I'm 70 something years old and I didn't think I could get to the street," said Lee. "But when that poor fellow started sipping on it and I knew he had to pick up the trash from across the street I managed to make it to him." She also handed the driver an ice-cold refreshment. "I know they work hard in the winter time and in the rain too and I appreciate them. Not too many people will or can do that job." Lee then told a story about her daughter leaving an old beat-up cooler for trash pickup. But instead of just tossing it to the curb, she loaded it with ice and drinks with a note for the workers to take it. "They took the drinks and left the cooler," said Lee.
Edna and Charles Brown made it a point to meet the truck bearing drinks and nabs. "We are very appreciative of what they do," said Mrs. Brown. "They will even go beyond their job description to help us."
Their generosity has not gone unnoticed. Lauri Brown, who has been driving for Republic since 2007 is rather attached to her clients. "When they come out to talk, you take that extra five minutes," said Brown. "If that five minutes is going to run me over, so what. That made a person happy." She added that it is tremendous that her customers understand what they do and the hard work that goes into the job, especially during extreme heat. "Working under the direct sunlight in 100 degrees is totally different than working in a factory," said Brown. "You've got the sunlight on top of the heat. Sometimes the throwers have to leave because they suffer from heat exhaustion."
What customers don't know is if that happens their service will not suffer. She will take over - driving and throwing - till the route is complete. "I want to keep my customers pleased with the service they're getting. I love my customers because they love me." Some love her so much that when her daughter passed away a year ago many showed up at the funeral home to provide comfort and support. "Some didn't even know my name," said Brown. "They just felt they needed to be there for me."
Edna and Betty Jean are but a few of the caring citizens who believe in helping your neighbor, even if they don't live next door. Just goes to show that compassion is alive and well in Williamsburg County.