Trash, the Library and a Worn, Brown Table: The 2019 College Essays on Money
‘The trash itself was a lens through which I saw what was going on in Chatham.’
It was the peak of the day’s heat on July 5, 2017, in the small vacation town of Chatham, Mass. My partner Benjamin and I emerged from the vast backyards of neighboring shoreline homes with big green barrels of garbage held over our backs and dumped them into the back of a garbage truck. As I hopped on the back step to ride to our next stop, I thought about how despite being sweaty, sore, covered in bug bites and garbage juice, I couldn’t have been happier to have this job.
Like many kids, I liked trash trucks as a toddler. Unlike most kids, I stuck with it forever. At the age of 8, I joined a community on YouTube of like-minded enthusiasts who posted videos of garbage trucks, under the name “trashmonster26.”
I spent a large portion of the next nine years filming all the different models of trash trucks that I could find, not only in my hometown, San Diego, but in Sacramento and Boston, where during family vacations I would take the opportunity to chase different kinds of trucks that couldn’t be found in San Diego.
I have such a vast knowledge of these vehicles that I can name the make, model and year of almost any garbage truck in the country after just a glance. The channel has amassed over 6,000 subscribers and four million views over the years. Most of my older friends who shared this interest went on to become garbage collectors when they reached adulthood, a path that my parents strongly discouraged.
I always knew growing up that I was going to go to college after high school, but I still wanted the experience of working on a truck. Although there are virtually no hauling companies that hire anyone under 18, I knew of a small family company near my grandparents on the East Coast that might break that norm to fill their need for seasonal help, Benjamin T. Nickerson Inc. I called their office, and after some persistent follow-up emails, I was hired to work for the summer.
我从小就知道高中毕业后要上大学，但我仍然想要体验在卡车上的工作。虽然几乎没有哪家运输公司会雇佣18岁以下的人，但我知道东海岸我祖父母家附近有一家名叫本杰明・尼克森公司(Benjamin T. Nickerson Inc.)的小型家族企业，可能会打破常规，找一些季节性帮工。我给他们的办公室打了电话，在坚持不懈地发了几封邮件之后，我被录用为暑期工。
To my classmates, moving to a small fishing town and handling other people’s waste all day sounds like the very least enjoyable summer possible. For me, it was one of the most liberating experiences of my life.
My day started at the crack of dawn, long before the vacationers in the area would even consider waking up. I was free from the confines of the classroom walls, free from the nagging of my parents. It was just me and the open road.
The trash itself was a lens through which I saw what was going on in Chatham. I saw American flags and spent fireworks on the 5th of July. The worst stops of the day were the dumpsters at fish piers, which had a stronger stench than the Chatham Transfer Station, an industrial building where we dumped the day’s load before it was transported to a landfill miles away. At one boat fabrication shop, a dangerous combination of sawdust and reactive chemicals caused a small fire in the truck.
There are very few similarities that one could find between my classmates at High Tech High and my customers in Chatham. The kids in my class were from diverse backgrounds and cultural groups all over San Diego. The summer vacation crowd in Chatham was almost exclusively white and wealthy.
我在高科技高中(High Tech High)的同班同学和我在查塔姆的客户之间几乎没有相似之处。我班上的孩子来自圣地亚哥不同的背景和文化群体。在查塔姆消暑的人群几乎都是富裕的白人。
The one thing that unified them, at least in my mind, was that they were not willing to take on my job. When my classmates thought about applying for jobs, they were thinking about air-conditioned movie theaters and retail stores, not backbreaking manual labor.
I’ve considered going into a field relevant to the management of waste, like civil engineering, but I think I may also pursue another passion of mine, like criminal law or political science. I know that no matter what path I chose, this experience will be part of how I end up there.