Keeping it clean
Every day at 4 a.m., Waste Management’s fleet hits the streets, making Keys life a little cleaner and safer, thanks to men like Jamie Duncan. A born and bred Conch, Duncan loves being a garbage man. This is his town and he is going to take care of it. With a broad smile and inviting laugh, Duncan is not afraid to show his affection for his customers, always one to help out with cans or lend an ear. Showered with cold sodas and a cChristmas card or two, it’s clear his positive attitude is infectious. Duncan sees men come and go from the job, but he’s a company man at the helm of his truck and has no plans to do otherwise. His reward? Picking up his three boys, Devin, Nathaniel, and Marcus, every day after school and helping make their world a better place.
How long have you worked for Waste Management? What do you do? 14 years now, and I have done a little bit of everything from washing trucks to now driving my own mini truck down the lanes.
Best part of the job? Talking to the older customers and checking in on them. I help them out with their cans and get to know them. And driving past schools with the little kids shouting “Stop!” when they see the trucks.
Worst? The heat — not really the smell, you get used to that, but then again, my smell is a little off.
What’s the most unusual thing you have found? A possum; it was alive in the can at the golf course. We let them take care of that.
Has anyone ever offered you a bribe? I never refuse a cold soda.
Is it the Sopranos? Is there a garbage mafia? No, not here—but you never know about other places.
Do you have a favorite street or area? I have different routes for different days, but I love Tuesdays; those customers make my day.
Biggest pet peeve ? When people don’t tie their bags—the tipper can shake the garbage out all over the place. (Tie your bags people!)
Here is your chance to tell residents a piece of advice, what is it? Put out your garbage the night before; they may think they know when the garbage man is coming, but it can change. Also, everyone can eliminate a lot of trash by recycling. And parents, sorry, most toys are NOT recyclable.
What have you learned about Key West doing your job? I see people just pick the trash off the street, so they know it’s our island and we need to take care of it. It’s good.
Worst events to clean up after? Both Fantasy Fest and New Years; both are awful.
What’s a secret a garbage man will never tell you? You can learn a lot about how a person lives through their garbage.
Describe Greg Sullivan, Waste Management’s manager for the Florida Keys. He’s a good guy; the man would give you the shirt off his back.
I just love my job, I wouldn’t be where I was at without my job. – Jamie Duncan, of Waste Management