I (Anthony Crosby) love talking with ALL the fantastic people who take the time to sit down and share their stories with AAT. With that being said, I’m excited about this one, today! You all know of our little slogan around here “Everyone has a story. What’s yours?” It’s true, everyone does have a story and everyone’s matters. “Everyone from a business owner, city politician, to your neighborhood garbage person, has a story and experiences which play a part in what makes our community so great,” I’ll usually say when explaining this idea to people. This week, I get to practice a little more of what I preach! Today, we get to hear from a local sanitation worker! Everyone has a story, what’s your garbageman’s? Tie up your Hefty bags, pull your can up to the curb, and let’s find out!
Today, we’re joined by Jared Martin of Elko Sanitation. Now, Jared and I had an interesting conversation because not only does his job often go unnoticed by many of us in the community, but he and his family are two years into adopting Elko as their hometown. Jared brought some unique perspectives to both aspects of life, so let’s let him take it away! “I currently work for Elko Sanitation, which is part of a company called Waste Connections, the third largest trash company in the country (preceded by Waste Managment and Rebulic Services respectively). I was born in and grew up in Illinois; I grew up with flatland and corn and soybeans all around. When I was seventeen I graduated high school and got a job with the county; I didn’t know what I was doing. I thought maybe I would shovel rocks or something. My first day on the job, my boss told me I needed to study for my CDL. He told me I needed the license so I could drive the dump trucks. I wondered if I could even get it because I was only seventeen, but I was afraid to say anything because I didn’t want to lose my job! So, I studied the manual and got my permit, took the test with the instructor and passed, at seventeen. So, when I went to get the license at the DMV counter, they asked me if I wanted to register to vote! I was afraid they had just discovered I wasn’t eighteen and it was over, but they just said “ok” and gave me my CDL license. So, I was driving dump trucks at seventeen. So, after that, I got a job at a lumberyard, for a full year.”
“When I turned nineteen, I was going to leave on a mission with my church, so I worked that year, lived at home, and saved every penny I had to pay for my mission ($10,000), and I got called to go to Idaho for it. Of course, when you get called on missions, the cool thing is to go overseas and learn a new language, so when I opened my call, and it was Idaho, I was like… that kind of sucks! From the minute I got there, I knew it was where God wanted me to be. I loved it, and I was there for two years. When I got off my mission, I went to Texas for a little bit with my family, but none of us liked it, and we all tried to escape as soon as we could. So, I went back to Idaho for school but kept getting pulled back to Texas, which was God’s way of telling me I needed to meet my wife; she was in Texas! So, I met her in there, we dated for seven years, and then immediately went to Alaska. I used my CDL there to drive tour buses for Princess Cruises; it was a blast, and that led me into garbage.”
“After Alaska, we moved back to Texas, and I threw out job applications trying to find work. One morning, I got a call from an HR representative from Waste Connections for a job in Twin Falls, Idaho. It was my dream to go back to Idaho. They interviewed me and then flew me to Rock Springs, Wyoming to meet the manager, and he asked if I would be ok with working in Rock Springs; I was bummed about not being able to go back to Idaho, but a job’s a job. We lived in Wyoming for about two and a half years when the opportunity to go and work in Twin Falls came up. I thought that was perfect, so we moved over there for two years. One night, around eight o’clock, my boss came over to my house to talk about a position in Elko.”
“Now, everyone in this company who had lived in Elko never had much good to say about it; they didn’t like the area and didn’t have many positive things to say about it. It came with a promotion and good opportunities, so I told him I needed to talk with my wife. When I went into our room to tell her, she literally kicked and screamed; no! Finally, she said ok, and after a few months, we took the job. I started coming down in February of 2015 and worked for the week and would commute back to Twin on the weekends because our house was being built, so my wife and kids stayed in Twin until July of 2015; it was exhausting, but after day one of moving in, we just loved it! We absolutely love it here! We couldn’t see ourselves living anywhere else; we want to be here forever!”
What a great story! I feel car sick just thinking about all of that moving and traveling, but thanks for sharing with us Jared! Now, it’s time for some trash talk! Please talk to us about your work. “Elko Sanitation for years was owned by a private, mom and pop time operation. However, for about ten years now, Waste Connections has owned it. Waste Connections, being a big corporation, kind of gets that reputation of wanting to come in a change a bunch of stuff, but the cool thing is they allow me the freedom to run Elko Sanitation as a mom and pop operation.”
“Within that operation, safety is our number one priority. Early on in our company, a driver was in an alley; he just finished his route. He saw a little girl run out, he waved to her, and then she ran back to her house. He completed his paperwork and started taking off. Well, she had gone to the house to bring him a plate of cookies, he didn’t see her come back, and she got ran over and killed. That had to change; the mentality of just getting stuff done had to change. We’re not going to compromise safety to make money. The garbage business has been ranked fourth or fifth when it comes to dangerous professions; other companies have been known actually to budget for fatalities for the year. We don’t do that; those are human lives. People come first. I want to protect the people of this community, and not only that, when we came in, the thought was that we were going to go and take take take from the community. We wanted to change that perception. We’re really trying to give back. We want to be apart of the community and not known as the guys who just come, pick up your trash and take your money.”
Well, thanks for thinking so much about our city, Jared! I know for myself, I don’t spend much time throughout my week thinking about my garbage person. However, what can we here at AAT keep in mind about you when they see and say hi to you around town? “Well, the track has been every two years my company moves me! I want to change that! We just love it here!”
Great! Many people move to the Elko area for work but never learn how to fall in love with and adopt this town as their own. As someone who has obviously come to appreciate our city after only two years, what kind of encouragement would you give someone who might be on the other side of the fence when it comes to living here? “I think the reason why I’ve connected here is due to the fact I’ve gotten to know people who are from here; they’ve almost adopted me too, like the people in our local Rotary Club. I think someone who is here (just for work) is unfortunate because they’re not connecting with the town. As great as someone’s job may be, the better part of life is family and friends. So, if your whole life is about work, you’re going to have a miserable time no matter where you are. If you’re only looking at your job, you’re going to miss out on other things; this town has a lot to offer. We may not have a Costco, but we do have the ability to go outside every night and look up at the Milky Way. We’re all apart of a community, and if we’re here to make money we’re going to miss out, but if we’re here to make better lives, awesome.”
Thank you for everything you and your crew do for the community, Jared! Our town would literally “stink” without you!
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See you on garbage day, Elko!