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Forgotten Heroes

On Friday The Department of Environmental Health (DEH) advised the public that they are experiencing delays in residential garbage collection services in Grand Cayman due to a temporary shortage of staff at the start of the week.

In our original series of Forgotten Heroes, the definition of a hero was given as someone whose actions make the entire community better. Additionally, since we are focusing on forgotten heroes, let us say that by “forgotten” we mean that these individuals are severely overlooked by just about everyone as far as their worth to society is concerned.

Today, we choose a group of civil servants that provide a vital service to the country. We choose the workers of the Department of Environmental Health. In particular, we focus on those individuals that are on the front line of the waste management battle; the garbage truck workers. Perhaps, a more politically correct term like “sanitation workers” should be used, but garbage truck workers is a term that definitely brings about the image of these individuals actual job. Yes, these are the folks whose job it is to handle all of the stinky, slimy, nasty, germy, potentially hazardous items that any other citizen might see fit to throw into a garbage container.

Just think for a moment of the consequences if these workers were, for whatever reason, unable to do their job. That same, aforementioned waste would not be collected, and would sit on the curbside deteriorating and decaying, and slowly seeping into our ground and penetrating our atmosphere.

Imagine, if you will, the amount of bacterial spores that would breed in that material and then be spread to humans and wildlife.

There are some of you reading this article right now that might be thinking this is being blown out of proportion. While it does require a stretch of the imagination to think of the negative consequences of these workers not doing their job, it has happened before, elsewhere. Any U.S. history buff could tell you about the 1968 sanitation workers strikes that caused a shutdown of garbage collection and related tasks. Ordinary citizens suffered without these services.

Gladly, that will not happen here. The Cayman Islands is actually really lucky, and indeed blessed, to have such a competent and diligent group of workers in this area. So, now that we have imagined the negatives, we should now turn to the positives. It is because of the garbage truck workers that we have a country whose visitors rave about its cleanliness. They also prevent a lot of illnesses and diseases from spreading.

Not only are they willing to do this job, they feel it is their duty to do the job well for the sake of the community. That is what heroes do.

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