Editor’s note: This article is part of a series where we thank the Unexpected Heroes who put themselves at risk to keep Utah running during the coronavirus pandemic. Every Monday, we'll highlight a different industry and ask you to write in to thank the workers in that industry for their service. During the week, we'll profile someone who works in that industry. Every Friday, we'll publish some of your submissions and send the messages of thanks to those in the field.
SALT LAKE CITY — Sanitation workers: Utah sees you.
In all the weeks we've been thanking Utah's Unexpected Heroes, this week is the first we've received more than 400 responses — 425 people wrote in wanting to thank you.
Week after week, you quietly go about your jobs, honking and waving to delighted children and participating in the vital work of collecting garbage, cleaning up sewage and making sure our pipes are clear.
Come rain, snow, earthquake, hot weather or a global pandemic, you're still our heroes, putting your health on the line to provide an essential service to Utahns. You don't have the option to work from home.
"Can't collect the trash through the internet," Washington, D.C., Department of Public Works Director Chris Geldart told the Washington Post in early April.
We asked Utahns to write in and tell us how they felt about the sanitation professionals who help keep Utah running.
Here's what Utah had to say
"Thank you so much. Just last week a worker stopped the truck and took my containers to the curb. I am in my seventies and the yard refuse was really cumbersome. Thank you for caring."
"Hallelujah for your diligent and 'daring' work for us all!!! One morning, I watched one of you get out of the truck and pick up some stuff that had fallen out of a very full trash receptacle. What you didn't know, is that receptacle was super full because our neighbor's husband had just asked for a divorce and she had to clean up and move quickly, thus the super full receptacle. That was a wonderful act of kindness, not only for her, but for all of us on the street. We really appreciate you!"
"You guys just came by a few minutes ago and I thought how grateful I am to have people like you, day in and day out, who are helping me and my family out. I try to cut down on waste just so you don't have to work as much, but I am very grateful for the work you do."
"So grateful for the opportunity to thank you folks who face unseen dangers in these pandemic times. I am so grateful that we continue to live in a clean environment .... that we can still flush our toilets and have our trash emptied. I know you folks sacrifice much in doing your jobs and I am hoping that people are learning and quit putting wipes and other stuff down the toilets. Bless you all for your continuing faithful service and I'm so grateful for the opportunity to have your great service recognized a little. How vital you are to our city and our wonderful Utah."
"Thank you, because of a pandemic. Absolutely not. Thank you because you do what you do week in week out, no matter what is going on in society. Rain or shine, pandemic or earthquake, you are the silent few that keep society functioning. From one public servant to another. Thank you for all you do."
"You bring pure joy when my grandkids hear the truck come around the corner! They love to watch the garbage truck! And I love that you take away a problem that I never even think about bc you guys are so reliable!"
"Thank you so much for your efforts to keep our homes and cities clean. My wife and I were shocked when we saw the increase amount of waste our family produced from being home all day every day. Because of your efforts though, we have been able to remain clean and sanitary in these scary times. We appreciate you and recognize the time you spend away from your family and home to take care of ours. Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
"Your efforts to keep our land free of debris and garbage is of utmost importance in decreasing the spread of any contaminants, toxins, diseases, viruses, etc... We could never find the words to express our gratitude for all you do!!!"
"Now that I’m home, I actually saw you outside the window. I noticed that when grass clippings fell out of the can and into the street, you stopped and scooped them up with your hands to clean them up. I appreciated that extra bit of service!"
Yesterday, I was taking my toddler grandson for a walk in his little red car when the garbage truck came along. He was mesmerized ... he loves the garbage truck. Today, we were up close and personal. He watched as it picked up all around the block. As it went around the corner, he waved bye bye and then started blowing it kisses. This has given me the insight of appreciation for the garbage truck drivers. I am grateful he does this unpleasant job and risks his health. I admire the skills it takes to line up to pick up each can. BUT ... how would our lives be without the garbage man/woman??? So, let's blow them kisses of appreciation or just sincerely thank them for their service. Thanks garbage man/woman for making a little guy's day and for showing up to do your job."
"My grandfather was a sanitation worker in his town in Venezuela and my uncle was a sanitation worker in New York City. I know it is a labor intensive job that often goes without thanks or much appreciation ... but THANK YOU! You keep society running and are more than essential for us! We try hard to keep our bins 3 feet apart and to not put items in the wrong bins! Thank you for your extra effort and courage to go out everyday to do what you do! Please keep safe and be strong! You are not unappreciated!! Thanks for keeping Utah running!! From: A very grateful Rose Park, SLC resident"