Trucking along: Solid Waste employee's career spans more than four decades
What started as a job working a trash route has turned into a decades-long career for Sylvester Taplin, who recently reached 42 years of service to the City of Temple.
“I love the people that I have worked with in all the 42 years,” Taplin said. “I have made some life-long friends and gotten to know a lot of residents.”
Taplin, who is currently the longest-tenured City employee, started working for the City of Temple’s Solid Waste Division May 21, 1979.
“Back then, everything was picked up by hand on the residential garbage truck,” Taplin said. “I was put on a three-man truck; the driver and two ground men. We rode on the back and picked up cans as we went down the street.”
Taplin has held several roles through the years – from crew leader and foreman to his current role as operations manager. Over the past four decades, he’s experienced advances in technology that have helped crews keep up with a growing city.
“The biggest change is how big and how fast the City has grown. When I started, routes included 700 homes. Now we pick up 1300-1400 homes a day,” Taplin said. “The trucks are all automated. We have added five recycle routes and the brush-and-bulk routes have grown so much also.”
One thing that hasn’t changed are the relationships he’s built from decades of serving thousands of residents.
“Some of the residents still call me just to chat or ask about my kids,” Taplin said.
And while some residents might fret over losing their friendly garbage man, Taplin isn’t ready to retire just yet.
“I hear, ‘Mr. Taplin, don’t retire,’ at least once a month. Or ‘Mr. Taplin, whatever will we do when you retire?’” Taplin said. “I have all the faith in the world in my foremen’s ability to take care of the citizens of Temple, just like I have. But who said I was retiring?”