The Environmental Protection Agency reports every person in the United States generates almost 4 1/2 pounds of trash everyday.
The vast majority of that trash ends up in landfills across the country. Every one of them has a Slope Monitor. It's a job that is a necessity to keep the landfill operating, and it is one of the Dirtiest Jobs in Texoma.
You and I and the rest of the 311 million people in the nation generate more than 200 million tons of what's known as Municipal Solid Waste every year. While recycling has gotten better and lowered that number over the last two decades that's still a lot of trash. It all has to go somewhere and most of us can't imagine working with it much less in it!
Shirley Wade does work in that trash. She is what's known as a Slope Monitor and told us she sees the job as an important one.
The Wichita Falls Landfill brings in 150 to 175 tons of trash every week. While all that trash gets dumped by big trucks, little trucks, all kinds of trucks. Some body's got to make sure the illegal stuff isn't in it and to make sure it gets compacted.
While it all looks like just trash, not all trash is equal. There are federal and state restrictions to what can and can't be buried in the landfill.
"You've got restrictions on where the trash has to be dumped and it has to be processed a certain way you know and customers have to understand where they park," Said Slope Manager Shirley Wade. "You try to keep all your lumber on one side and all your trashy trash on the other side. It helps build the slope. It helps make it easier on the compactor it just makes the job a lit easier."
Landfills are not inexpensive. The compactor is a $1 million vehicle. The liner that is placed below and above the garbage once it's buried is in the millions of dollars. So it makes economic sense to make sure everything that goes in is smashed as low as it can go so you can get more inside.
The Slope Manager is a crucial part of making what you pay the City for trash pick up every month go as far as possible.
"We have to monitor the slopes and we have to make sure that customers that bring tires, we have to pick them up," says Wade. "We have to take them to the tire barn they can get cut up because tires won't bury. They just keep popping up like donuts. So, you would have to keep them off the slopes because of the quality control that we have."
With 600 tons of garbage coming in every month, that alone would make this a dirty job. But, when you add the fact that the Slope Monitor is outside everyday, you know this is one dirty job.
"It's a very dirty job. I mean, when you get so much dirt in your hair that it gonna stick you know," Wade said laughing. "You don't have to use moose or anything on it to fix it, then you know it's pretty dirty out here."
Shirley says you have to take the good and the bad with the weather, and she's got an amazing outlook on how she handles it.
She told us, "There are good and bad days you know? The windy days are the worst. And, of course you know people have to have things to complain about, so when the wind is not blowing and the sun is beaming down it's hot. So you know you gotta take one with the other and just keep on truckin."