WILMINGTON — Many people struggle to make it to work by 8 a.m. Fewer still wake up around 4 a.m. so they can be on the road and at work by 5 a.m.
Cody Romohr, who leads a refuse collection crew for the Wilmington Sanitation Department, is one of those few. Romohr, 28, began working for the city’s landfill at 19 and says he’s still adjusting to waking up that early.
When he started, he rode on the back of the garbage truck and threw in bag after bag of trash. Later, he operated equipment at the landfill itself before he began driving the truck on residential routes.
“Never in a million years” did he think in high school that he would end up driving a garbage truck for Wilmington.
After a semester of college, Romohr said, he realized college wasn’t for him, and he didn’t want to spend four more years doing it. That, and an ad for a garbage collector, convinced him to apply.
“I like working outside. I don’t like being inside at a desk all day,” he said. “This kind of fit the bill.”
Romohr said others who find out that college or a desk job isn’t for them should also consider applying — the job is good and comes with good benefits, and there are opportunities to advance, as he did. In fact, he said, “I’ll probably retire from here.”
Meanwhile, some dangers of the job include being attacked by stray or pet animals, other drivers and their vehicles, work-related injuries and weather.
“If it’s 20-below and snowing, we’re picking up trash,” Romohr said. “We work all holidays” and in all kinds of weather, from rain to ice.
While contact with the public is limited, Romohr said he does get the occasional compliment or complaint. Around Christmas, the collectors also get a lot of cookies.
He hasn’t yet been given a fresh glass of milk, though.
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.