Even when the job gets a bit rough, three sanitation workers at National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) said they wouldn't trade anything for their job, as encouragement, kind gestures, and their commitment keep them going.
The three — Levar May, Sydonnie Bellifante-Martin and Dominic Elvy shared their experiences during a sit-down with the Jamaica Observer at the NSWMA's head office in St Andrew last Wednesday.
For May, getting the job done with his colleagues is what he enjoys the most.
"I love going to work and having fun with my co-workers as the days go by. It motivates me more to do my job and I feel joy, knowing I have a job at NSWMA," said May who has been a sanitation worker for three years.
Dominic Elvy, who has been on the job for two years, added, "I go out there every day to make sure our customers are being treated in the right way and ensuring that we don't spill when we are disposing of garbage."
At times, team disputes and rude customers can make the job a bit challenging. But Bellifante-Martin said she always tries to maintain a positive attitude during those situations.
"My daily routine involves ensuring the work is done to the quality of the company and ensuring safety of staff and discipline is maintained on the job. Sometimes workers quarrel and as a team leader you have to maintain the peace. As the days go by, whatever comes my way I have to find ways to work through it," said Bellifante-Martin, who has been there for four years.
"Also, some customers will discriminate against you and sometimes they carry on, because your job is to pick up rubbish so they treat you as if they are more than you. There are other times, when you go to areas, you have people who love and respect you but it is based on how you relate to them," she added.
Elvy agreed with Bellifante-Martin.
"We have to understand that nobody is perfect. The world is not on one level, so you still have to show up and get the job done regardless," he said.
Reflecting on some good experiences on the job, the sanitation workers did not hesitate in sharing with the Sunday Observer.
Elvy said one particular customer would often make breakfast for him and his colleagues as they pass by to collect garbage.
"I met an elderly person who even makes breakfast for us. For instance, if we are supposed to go there on a Wednesday she make sure every Wednesday morning we get breakfast – even though it's not good to stop and take anything because we are working with time, she would often say, 'Unuh can stop man, take a five'," Elvy said while smiling.
Bellifante-Martin said another elderly woman would offer beverages.
"This elderly lady – she will offer water or juice to the workers and so on, and she would always encourage us to keep going," she said.
At the same time, May shared some of the encouragement from customers.
"You will have some people who will say, 'I love the job that you have done', and others who will say 'You all do good jobs. You must get better pay," he said.