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Sanitation workers deserve respect

TimesLedger Newspapers

As the wife of one of the city’s unsung heroes, I would like to thank you for printing an article that praises the efforts put forth by this department.

After “snowmaggedon” two years ago, the city Sanitation Department came under fire, which was undeserved. Their trucks becoming stuck in roadways was the fault of the bureaucrats, who decided somehow it was cost-effective to get rid of the heavy chains placed on truck tires and replace them with ones that were cheap and flimsy and which broke.

The public had been asked to stay off streets, yet drivers were everywhere and ultimately got stuck and blocked roadways citywide, which prevented them from being cleared. When there is a severe weather event, people should be off the roads unless it is an emergency. Their insistence on driving hinders the job Sanitation is trying to do.

People do not realize the hard, physical labor these men and women put into a day’s work. They do not realize that 10 to 14 tons of garbage is being loaded by people, not machines. The wear and tear on their bodies takes its toll after years of doing it. They do not realize the verbal abuse heaped upon them by motorists who are frustrated that they are stuck behind a truck as they try to get to work, or the physical dangers from motorists who come within inches of a Sanitation worker’s legs.

Then there are the drivers who practically insist that the truck drive around the block so they may pass, and I cannot even express how ludicrous that is. There simply are times when there is no place for the truck to pull over to allow motorists to pass. Not to mention the fact that people do not seem to understand that they are working.

And then, of course, we have the drivers who just keep their hands on their horns, blaring away at these workers to harass them further. I am thrilled that it has now been made a felony to assault a Sanitation worker. It is a decision that is long overdue.

My husband has been thanked numerous times while cleaning up after Sandy by people who are grateful to see someone doing something to help them. Many times they comment that Sanitation is the only agency they have seen, and with amazing grace they have lost so much, yet will offer a water or coffee as appreciation.

The FDNY and the NYPD are always held above Sanitation, but it is time Sanitation gets its own recognition. These workers, after all, are one of the city services.

And mostly for a thankless public, so I am glad to be reading about some overdue praise.

Christina Antolos

Maspeth

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