I had a great career in my adult life. I worked my ass off, had some luck, and a good idea or two that helped some businesses along the way. There were some lows but mostly progressive highs. My best job though was working on the back of the Rumson garbage truck during my college summer vacations.
After high school ended, my dad took me down to see Bill Murphy – he ran the road department, and everything needed to keep Rumson clean. He kind of looked like Kenny Rogers in The Gambler at the time but didn’t sing or gamble. I had been accepted to college, but who knew if I would show up, continue forever, or finish, so this was an excellent place to start something. I was a bit of a legacy, too, as a cousin worked on the road department. I was in.
I hung off the back of a brush truck for the next four summers with various friends, it was fun. We started early and ended at four, which left some time to do something before dark. For us, it was making more summer bucks painting houses, going to the beach, or just waiting for tomorrow.
When you pick up brush, you’re not loading household garbage. Brush are the remnants of plants, trees, grass clippings, and stuff people would throw out from their shed. Only Rumson would have classes of waste. On the brush truck, knowing what went on behind the blade holding the garbage is essential; a fire in there could be quite a problem.
I remember coming off of Sailors Way one day heading East on Rumson Road. Smoke had started to ease out of the back of the truck. By the time we got to Bellevue, it was pouring out like we were the car showing up at the parade in Animal House. We stopped, and there was only one choice, we had to dump the load. The fire trucks arrived, cops, and everyone who gets excited to see an emergency as long as it is not happening to them. We literally dumped a burning bunch of shit in the middle of Rumson Road while the fire department put the fire out. It took a couple of hours, and we had to clean it up when it was over, but this day was done.
Later, we were asked if we set the fire. Like we would strike a match on a truck, carrying 20 yards of garbage going 30 miles an hour down the road? I think it would be quite hard to do and would have qualified us for circus work with Ringling Brothers or a place in Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant song. No way.