Wiener recalled being overwhelmed by Sani2’s service, but the next day one of its workers brought him to tears. “Troy was all over the place, trying to help folks out,” said Wiener, who works for the Royal Windows and Doors Company. “He was out raking leaves and sweeping the street, and then he started to help load the garbage truck. One of the guys thought Troy looked cold, so he went into the truck and gave him a sweatshirt. My wife and I saw that and we just started to cry. That man was our hero at a time when we needed someone to be a hero.”
In addition to performing small acts of kindness, Sani2 has also been performing massive acts of garbage collection. According to its general supervisor of operations, Keith Eckels — who later arranged a reunion between Troy Wiener and his sweatshirt benefactor, John Puglisi Jr. — his crews have been working almost nonstop since before the storm.
Sani2’s modest fleet consists of 10 garbage trucks, two “rack” trucks and five recycling trucks that have been conscripted to process trash. Aside from using a pallet jack borrowed from another district and a Bobcat on loan from Baldwin High School, the majority of collections have been done by hand.
“To this point,” Sani2 commissioner Jerry Brown said on Nov. 21, “we’ve hauled away 7,000 tons of trash by hand.” Brown explained that this figure dwarfed collections in normal months. The hauls last October and November were just over 2,000 tons each.
Brown said that the district was always ready to help out any way it can, but the storm brought with it an added sense of emotional resonance. “We didn’t want people to come home and see all their worldly possessions sitting out on the street,” he said.
Kerry Schwenker, a sanitary district employee, added, “My sister just had a baby, and she had to throw out all this new baby stuff. She doesn’t need to see that when she comes home.”
More than garbage