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April 12, 2017

Veteran trash truck driver handles what most avoid

Photos/Don Del Rosso
“It’s gotten harder, because you got more houses,” Otis Mosley explains. “Town has gotten bigger, way bigger since I got here.”
Mr. Mosley and crew members Conway Robinson and Shane Ball work through a Warrenton neighborhood Tuesday morning.
The only thing that gets to me is dead deer. They’re all busted up or bloated. Throw them in the hopper and when you pack them, the blood flies all over. If they’re a day or two old, they’re rotten and smelly.
— Otis Mosley
Otis Mosley
• Age: 51

• Home: Culpeper

• Work: Town of Warrenton trash truck driver/crew supervisor.

• Salary: $58,698 per year.

• Education: Culpeper High School, 1984.

• Family: Wife, Sheena, grown daughter; two stepsons.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
Trash men hate the summer.

They loathe the heat, the riper-than-normal odors and the higher volume of garbage.

“The worst,” says Town of Warrenton garbage truck driver Otis Mosley, who will retire in June after working 30 years for the municipality. “You got all those heavy bags of grass and the sun beaming down on you.”

When the temperature soars into the 90s, the air reeks with rubbish, says Mr. Mosley, grimacing.

“If bags got some rotten meat in them — rotten chicken — you’re going to know it,” he says Tuesday morning behind the wheel of a 10-ton International garbage truck.

Mr. Mosley, 51, started with the town as a laborer but has spent most of his career on a trash truck — either stuffing the “hopper” with all manner of refuse or as a driver and crew supervisor.

The town has a pair of three-man crews that pick up trash Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Both teams collect recyclables on Wednesday. Each crew covers roughly half the town.

Mr. Mosley’s team — Shane Ball and Conway Robinson — arrives at the public works building off Falmouth Street at 6:30 a.m. and hits the streets a half-hour later. Depending on the day and the volume of trash awaiting them, the three men typically finish between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., Mr. Mosley says.

Once on the road, the crew stops for almost nothing, says the Culpeper resident, who got promoted to driver and crew supervisor almost 18 years ago.

“We eat on the go,” Mr. Mosley says. “You bring something from home and keep going. . . . Every minute counts when you’re on the trash truck.”

Paid for a 40-hour work week, the crews go home when they finish their routes.

Over the years, the job has changed, Mr. Mosley says.

“It’s gotten harder, because you got more houses,” he explains. “Town has gotten bigger, way bigger since I got here.”

That means a lot more garbage to handle.

The trucks can haul about 9,000 pounds of trash per load. On busy summer days and after holidays, each crew can collect up to 12,000 tons of garbage per day, requiring two trips to the county landfill just south of Warrenton.

The work can be backbreaking, with bags weighing up to 70 pounds, according to Mr. Mosley. Hard to believe, but people sometimes bag dirt or put concrete chunks in household waste, he says.

“You never know what you’re going to find.”

Besides curbside pick-up duties, crews occasionally scoop up roadkill.

“The only thing that gets to me is dead deer,” says Mr. Mosley, whose crew disposes about two such carcasses a year. “They’re all busted up or bloated. Throw them in the hopper and when you pack them, the blood flies all over. If they’re a day or two old, they’re rotten and smelly.”

Wet weather also presents unique trash disposal challenges.

“When it rains and your hopper gets full of water, it’ll shoot right back on you,” Mr. Mosley says. “I’ve been soaked several times.”

His wife Sheena, a Fauquier Hospital insurance specialist, does the household laundry.

But, if he’s had an unusually dirty work day, Mr. Mosley cleans his pungent uniform before his wife gets home.

“If it’s real stinky and makes the house stink, I’ll go ahead and throw it in the washer.”

As crew supervisor, he’s had to deal with difficult employees who’ve argued with citizens about the kinds of trash the town will accept.

“If you got a hothead on the back of the truck, getting things all confused, then I have to explain,” Mr. Mosley says. “They just didn’t know how to talk with citizens.”

He believes practicing the Golden Rule can help ease citizen disputes.

“You treat them with respect, they give you respect,” says Mr. Mosley, whose colleagues over the years affectionately have nicknamed him “Dog,” “Cupcake,” “Pork Chop” and “Big O.”

His boss, Public Works Superintendent John D. Ward, describes him a model employee.

“Otis is a good Christian fella,” Mr. Ward says. “He does his job to the best of his ability, and doesn’t complain. No fuss, no muss with Otis. I hate to see him resign.”

While Mr. Mosley will miss his co-workers, he believes the time has come for him to do something else with his life.

“Everything’s for a season,” he says. “And I think my season is out.”
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BJ · April 13, 2017 at 9:19 am
Thank you Mr. Mosley and all the pick-up people for your service to the community. You're is a job that few have the stamina or stomach to do.
fauquierian · April 12, 2017 at 7:07 pm
9000 tons of trash per load?
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