Ultimate Garbage Man

Ronnie Keshishian knows a thing or two about garbage trucks. After 23 years in the waste industry, he's amassed a wealth of knowledge about them — not to mention a large collection of toy versions of them.

A field operations crew leader for the Glendale, Ariz., Sanitation Department, Keshishian has been collecting garbage truck paraphernalia since he entered the industry at age 25. His collection now contains 450 items including wooden and plastic toy trucks and models to bumper stickers, coloring books, photographs and his own personal license plate that says, “Trash 2.”

Keshishian's collection began when his mother gave him his first garbage truck — an orange Corgi toy truck — after he got his first job throwing trash into a rear loader. “From that day on, I just wanted to collect everything I could,” he says.

He scours toy stores, garages sales, flea markets and antique stores for items to add to his shelves. And people always know what to get him for gifts. “Residents are always buying them for me, especially around Christmas,” Keshishian says. He recalls one time when he and a crew of men took a truck — decorated in streamers and balloons — to a boy's birthday party. The following week the boy brought him a garbage truck from the toy store as a thank you gift.

Keshishian displays all of the items he has amassed throughout his home. He also has a glass display case at work that houses the garbage trucks in a model cityscape.

Among the more interesting items in his collection are a truck in his office that has been turned into a planter, a laundry basket that looks like a trash can and his favorite, a truck tattoo on his left arm with his wife's and son's names surrounding it.

Keshishian says he also is very proud of his rare green Marx toy truck from Germany made in the 1930s. He plans to add to the collection soon by building custom lamps out of 64-gallon containers given to him by Los Angeles-based Rehrig Pacific.

Such fascination with garbage has garnered attention. Keshishian was featured in the local newspaper and has appeared on “The Maury Povich Show.” He even got married in 1996 in front of a garbage truck at a Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) Road-E-O. After the ceremony, he took a “victory lap” aboard the truck.

But what's the best part of his hobby? “I have a very understanding wife,” Keshishian says. “She's very supportive.”

TAGS: Trucks