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Many years ago, one of the regulars in the pub where I worked part time, always seemed to have plenty of money to spend, despite working far fewer hours than his friends did. He used to start at 06.00 but was often finished by 10.00 and he loved his job. It meant an early start and was quite physical, but it was wonderful when the weather was good and there was some real camaraderie amongst the team. What did he do? He was a refuse collector – or dustman as it was known back then.
I know that things have tightened up in our local authorities in the ensuing years but the UK’s refuse collectors still have it easy compared with their counterparts in some other countries, as I learned when watching BBC Two’s ‘Toughest Place to be... a Binman last week.
The programme focused on Wilbur Ramirez, a refuse collector from London (who is used to being ferried around in an air-conditioned, state-of-the-art dustcart when he works) as he accompanied his Jakartan counterpart on his round for 10 days to see how the work compares.
The early start is the same but that’s where the similarity ends. Six days a week, soon after sunrise, Imam Syaffi sets off with his hand-pulled cart to collect rubbish from Jakartan households.
9th February 2012