[00:00:00] Liz Bothwell: Hi everyone, welcome to Waste360's NothingWasted! Podcast. On every episode, we invite the most interesting people in waste recycling and organics to sit down with us and chat candidly about their thoughts, their work, this unique industry and so much more. Thanks for listening and enjoy this episode.
[00:00:27] Liz: Hi everyone. This is Liz Bothwell from Waste360 with Terrill Haigler, a sanitation worker from the great city of Philadelphia. Welcome, and thanks for being on the show today.
[00:00:38] Terrill Haigler: Thanks for having me, Liz. I'm super excited to talk to you today.
[00:00:43] Liz: Me too. Let's start at the beginning. Tell me how you became a sanitation worker in Philly.
[00:00:49] Terrill: I applied for the job in 2017. At that time, the waiting lists for the city Sanitation Department was 2,000 people and I was number 782. In 2019, October, I got an email and a letter saying that my number would be in call and then if I was still interested, that I could come down, pick a drug test, do orientation, and start working as a sanitation worker.
I waited two years and there was no big, "Oh, I love sanitation. I want to be-" It was, "It's a city job. It's a W-2 benefit." My whole life everyone's saying, "Get a job with the city and they'll take care of you for the rest of your life." That was the motivation behind it. My first day was December 30th, 2019 and as you do know, three months later corona showed her face and never left. [laughs] That's how it all began.
[00:02:00] Liz: I didn't realize that you started that soon before the pandemic. Please tell me how things went during the pandemic. I know Philly was really hit hard, like the rest of the country, with an increase in residential trash and there were a lot of challenges there. Please tell me about that.
[00:02:21] Terrill: Yes, the first week we shut down in March. It took about two weeks for us -and facing August- to realize that there were an extra six to seven bags per house. Usually, you get through your route. Our day was from seven to three. We were noticing that we were getting halfway through the route and we look at the time and it was like 1:32. We were like, "We got a whole half a route left. What's going on?"
That's when everybody started realizing that because everybody was home, we were accumulating more waste. In Philadelphia, you would see a block and you couldn't even see the trees on the block, you would just see trash bags. We just put our heads down and [unintelligible 00:03:13] through, but we had major delays. We had delays up to almost four days. Their trash day was on a Friday, the Sanitation Department would be on Tuesday.
There were a lot of articles coming out, "Oh, it's the sanitation worker's fault. They're just lazy. They're not coming to work because they're this, they're that." I was just like, "Hey, guys. Hey, Philadelphia. We're really trying here." I'm talking to older coworkers and I'm talking to people that came here with me and I'm like, "What can we do?" That's just my personality. I don't like to get blamed for anything I didn't do. If I ain't did nothing, I ain't taking the blame for it.
I'm like, "What can we do?" The more and more we got into the summer, the worst the delays got. The hotter it got, the more articles came out. In June 17th, after a night of thinking, "What can I do?" I decided to create Ya Fav Trashman as an Instagram account. It was just solely just to give people an inside look or what it's like to be a sanitation worker in Philadelphia, and to show people what we're actually dealing with.
No one knew that at that time, 200 plus sanitation workers had tested positive or were quarantining. There's only 1,400 sanitation workers in Philadelphia. You take away 200 plus, that's almost a little bit of a third of the whole operation. I just wanted to share information with the public that they didn't know, and then maybe brisket debt between the Department and the residents so that we get some understanding.
We would get some grades, there'll be a straight line of communication, and then maybe the residents could help us do our jobs better by curving the chest ladder, tying the bags, neatly put in the pile. Because if you get the pile and there's bags everywhere, everything is untied, boxes everywhere, it's going to take us longer versus if things were neater. I'm like, "Okay, if you want to play [unintelligible 00:05:30] something, how about we just share responsibility and let's just get to the issue of these delays? And let's just attack it".
I started using the Instagram to get updates. We were like four days behind, so if it's Thursday, but we're actually on Monday before I start my route, I was like, "Hey, Philadelphia. I know in the rural world it's Thursday, but in the trash world is Monday. [unintelligible 00:05:58] day is Monday. We're coming today." Literally people were holding their trash until they got my updates, made the city see a perspective and a narrative where they were like, "Okay, we're going to wait for Ya Fave Trashman update. Once he does to update, I know to put my trash out for the whole day".
It took us a couple of months, but around September I told them in 2020, we actually got the one the right day. From April of 2020 to September, October of 2020, we were at least a day or two behind during the whole pandemic of trash collection.
[00:06:42] Liz: I love that you used Instagram and your platform to transparently communicate with residents. Terrill, what's amazing is they were listening. How awesome is that?
[00:06:53] Terrill: Yes. When I started the Instagram, I was like, "Okay, I think that's good. 500 people and it would just be us and we'll rock out." Then, as it grew and it grew, news people and journalists started reaching out and I'm on Fox, on ABC, CBS, WHYY. We have a paper in Philadelphia called the Inquirer, it's one of the biggest papers. I made the front page of the Inquirer here.
Then another North Philly reporter, that she writes nationally for Good Morning America. She reaches out and does an article, and then that same day that the article comes out, David Muir calls me and was like, "Can you be on the show tonight?" I'm just like, "Hold up. I'm just on Instagram and a sanitation worker, what is happening?" But I realized that it's been a crazy of residents for this type of communication from sanitation.
People have always wanted to know, always wanted to see, always wanted to be a part, but there never was a resource or an avenue for people to actually be a part and see what happens while they're usually at work. What the coronavirus state was it put a magnifying glass on things that people usually don't see. I say it all the time, people think that they put that trash on the curb and robots pick them up, and when they come back, they just know that the trash can is empty.
What they don't realize is actual human beings have to walk, have to pick it up, have to put it in the truck, have to put it back, deal with all the bags, deal with the weather, deal with the truck breaking down, deal with coronavirus. In the morning, when we got our assignments, they didn't say, "Hey, by the way, 10 houses on your route had tested positive for corona so be careful." We didn't get any of that information.
Anybody that's quarantining in their house and they're sneezing, they're coughing in all the tissues where do all the tissues go? In the trash. Who's picking it up? Sanitation workers. That was my whole thing, trying to keep my colleagues safe. I have three kids so when the pandemic first hit, I didn't see my kids for six weeks because we didn't have enough information. Then, what really boosted the Instagram and everything was the city just was not prepared.
No one in the country was prepared to deal with COVID that long. When PPE ran out and I was, "Dang", more and more of my coworkers were getting sick. I'm 31 years old, but I really have an old soul. I was like old school fundraiser, sell t-shirts, and I'm going to try to raise money and buy PPE for the entire department. Again, doing myself way shortly. Like, "I'll sell a few t-shirts, at least I can provide PPE for my yard." I ended up selling over 2,000 t-shirts and raised it over $32,000 to buy PPE and cleaning supplies for the entire Sanitation Department in Philadelphia.
[00:10:16] Liz: That's amazing.
[00:10:16] Terrill: Yes, I spent every single dime on PPE and cleaning supplies. Then I noticed a movement started. I started a hashtag, #SupportSanitation. Now you see Support Sanitation signs in the windows while we're cleaning or we're collecting trash, and we see yard signs that say, "We love our sanitation workers. Thank you." Now, for us, we're like, "We have never been loved going like this in the history of Philadelphia sanitation".
The whole summer people were giving us water, Gatorade, water ice, pretzels, they wish they could hug us and thanking us that it was such a stip in the perception of sanitation workers, that the energy in the city feels different. The energy in the city got lighter, got more family life, got more community life and I was just like, "Man, this is awesome. I've never seen the city-" Anybody that knows Philly, we are extreme.
We're either extremely against you or we're extremely forward to you. There's usually no gray area in Philly so to see that the city was extremely with us during a pandemic was-- my other sanitation workers would hit me on Instagram. Like, "Man, I felt like crying today." One guy said they got to the block and one of the worst parts of the delays, they got to the block, the people came outside, they were sharing, they were clapping. Not only that, they helped them throw it in the truck.
When I saw that is the reason why I was like, "Okay, at this point, I'm at like 20,000 followers. I got the blue check from Instagram. I have to continue to use my platform to continue to advocate for sanitation." What I really realized and what I really learned is that during the pandemic, the community was actually forgotten about. It was actually forgotten about.
I would always talk to my mom about what to do next. My church does food drives all the time so I was like, "Hey, do you think I can do a food drive with the church and this?" It snowballed into a huge thing and I got connected to a company and I got connected to this company, and my church was helping me and on October 10th, I had my first food drive. We ended up feeding 1,500 frontline workers that day.
[00:13:13] Liz: That's amazing. Oh my God. I just love that you took your platform, you had one strategy in mind and one goal in mind, and then it just ballooned into this amazing platform for sanitation workers and now you're using it for such good. From PPE, now to these food drives. I applaud you. This is amazing, Terrill.
[00:13:36] Terrill: Thank you. Yes, now I'm getting into civic engagement and community outreach because I believe that in order for it to change for sanitation workers, we have to put people in positions of power that care about these issues. There's no way that we're going to get lost change and we're going to get hazardous pay, higher wages, and better benefits for sanitation workers if we don't have people in positions of power fighting for them.
Now I'm on a whole other wave as I do my clean-ups, where every clean-up is done with a state rep and a council person so that they can see the response from community when I come in with my partners, like T-Mobile, goPuff, and Coca-Cola. I just became a partner with the Sons of Benjamin from the Philadelphia Union. When I bring all my resources then, and T-Mobile gets a DJ and we're out there dancing, singing, and having fun COVID consciously, six feet apart, but we're cleaning a neighborhood that feels like it's been forgotten.
Then I have this-- me and my partners with the food coming, drop off a box of food at every resident. During the food insecurity, these state reps, and these council people, they see the energy inside their districts shift. If I can get all of that energy to shift across the city, now people are realizing that maybe we need to listen to community and really hear what their needs are and not take advice from analytics and statistics project what the community needs.
That's where I'm at right now. I'm still doing the food drives and I still am a community while I just try to advocate for sanitation always. Now I see a bigger goal is to get people in positions of power that can fight on a higher level for all the people that feel they've been forgotten.
[00:15:52] Liz: You're talking about real change. I did see on your Instagram that you did have one of these leaders come and he saw the important work that you're doing, and the engagement from around the city. Didn't that spark some sort of beautification campaign?
[00:16:10] Terrill: You're talking about Jared Solomon. He actually got on the trash truck, he rolled around, and picked up trash on the trash truck for a whole day. We went live, we talked about it, and his perception changed. He started caring more about the beautification efforts in his district. He was able to get a grant for $25,000 to plant trees in his district. Literally, his district looks so much better. Now people are littering less.
There's less people throwing trash on the ground because he's making a statement that we have to care about how our district looks. Now with the trees and with us cleaning, there's less trash on the ground than there was before. That's what I'm trying to do with everybody. I just started a campaign of my own called Make Your Voting Plan With Ya Fav Trashman. The whole idea behind this campaign is to physically engage the whole state of Pennsylvania. The suburbs, Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, everybody.
What I want to do is register a million people to vote between now and May, really get a million people to come out and vote in the May primary where we're going to select judges, DAs, and a city controller. I just learned that the city controller dictates where the money goes. If we have a million people that are looking at the city controller, in the past, people would just click the Democratic button, or the Republican button and just select the first eight.
Now we're telling these elected officials, "Listen, we are paying attention as community. We are going to vote too. We are going to ask questions and there's not going to be just a fly-by and get in and then not do your job." I want to host town halls where community gets to ask and city controller or somebody that wants to be city controller. Like, "Hey, what are you going to do with the city's budget?" Because never in the history, that I've known, have you actually got to talk to the city controller, like on a Zoom call or in-person to ask them what their plans are.
Now if I shed a light on it with my platform and the city controller says, "Oh, I just want to give all the money to prisons." I don't think community is really going to be for that person, or that means that person's not going to get elected. But if the city controller says, "Hey, I want to give the money to education and arts programs. I want to start a beautification up here in Philadelphia, and I want to raise the wages of sanitation workers." Now community is like, "This is our person", but that hasn't happened before.
I want to use my platform in that way because then we get to select people that are going to fight for our issues, that speak our language, that understand our issues. Now you've really changed the scope of the city because you have community and elected officials on the same page. You could probably count on one hand how many counties, cities, state community, and elected officials are on the same page.
[00:19:29] Liz: Absolutely. The fact that you are helping to pass that is fantastic. Tell me, are you finding that they're open to this and they're comfortable? [inaudible 00:19:42]
[00:19:43] Terrill: I'm going to say yes because I don't know how to say this without sounding cocky, but I feel like I've created a platform where if I call you out on Instagram, you know that at least 23,000 people are looking, so you tend to respond. When I tag people on pictures or I call out people like, "Hey, this is in your district. What can we do about it?" There are people that are looking for you to respond, and that's what I intend to do.
I intend to raise the standard of what community expects from your elected official and there's trash on the ground. Let me start. Philadelphia was voted the dirtiest city in America by Forbes, and I took that really personal, but I can't do it by myself. That's why one of my things is it takes all of us. I have a t-shirt that says, "It takes all of us", and the reason my t-shirt says that, because it's not going to take me, you, and her, it's going to take the entire city. The mayor, the governor, the city controller, council, people, state reps, board leaders.
I didn't know what a board leader was until I got into doing food drives for the community and everything, and I'm trying to figure out, "Who do I talk to?" [unintelligible 00:21:05] "Talk to the board leader." I'm like, "I've never heard of the board leader in my life and I'm 31 years old." Imagine what I could tell a 17-year-old what a board leader is and how they could get involved with changing their community and not wait till they're 31. Imagine what I could have been doing at 17 and 18 that I can be let them learn them now.
That's the way of life, whatever you've learned late in life, you teach it to the next generation early. I want to teach the next generation that they should care about how the neighborhood looks. They should make sure that they clean the neighborhood, that they should get no trash cans on the corner in the neighborhood, and someone should take responsibility, and be a model and everything. These business owners should be investing in the sanitation and the neighborhood. The city should take a little bit more responsibility and do a little more when it comes to sanitation and beautification.
I know here in Philadelphia, I'd want to get our home legal dumping department. No legal dumping is shared between two departments. It's so bad here, we should just create a little dumping department because then we create jobs and we create a solution to our problem that is really bad here in Philadelphia, which I understand because people don't have jobs. Now, they're trying to be rehabbers and flip houses and do that, but they don't have the money to take it to adopt.
Maybe the city creates a department for people to demo houses and be able to use the city dump free of charge, that they won't put it on the street. I'll literally say all the time, I just want a seat at the table to start the conversation. I'm not naive. I know it's not going to happen overnight. I know hazardous pay is not going to happen one morning when I wake up, but at least if we can start the conversation and we are talking to people that care about these issues. It just be like a wildfire, because it's not just Philadelphia, it's around the whole country.
It's New Orleans. It's LA. It's Houston. It's New York. If Seattle. It's everybody. It's Colorado. It's Baltimore. It's all these sanitation departments and their residents are like, "Listen, the pandemic, shine the light on something that we did not know really existed. We always knew something, but we weren't able to identify it. Now that it's identified, let's not wait for the next pandemic to go through it all again, let's fix the problem now." That's the energy, that's the fire that burns in me, that the [unintelligible 00:23:44] just see it fixed in a drift [unintelligible 00:23:46].
[00:23:47] Liz: I love that. That fire is it's energizing to other people, and that's what I think is so great about you sharing your message like this, because you are encouraging others to do that. You are encouraging all the stakeholders involved to come to the table and you're being a realist about it. You do know what you can accomplish now, you do know what is going to take more time. I think that's fantastic. Good for you.
[00:24:12] Terrill: Yes. I really am trying.
[00:24:15] Liz: Well, it's working. Are you finding that other people are reaching out to you? Like, "Hey, there's something going on in this part of the city that needs to be cleaned up", or even other departments in other cities coming to you and asking you how you've done this?
[00:24:31] Terrill: They're not asking me how I've done it, but they're definitely reaching out and asking, "How can I be a part? How can I be of assistance?" Let me tell you, I run my Instagram. I have a little team with me, like a management team and a senior advisor and stuff, but when it comes to my Instagram, I am the sole possession of it.
I don't let anybody running Instagram because I feel like it has to be my words and it has to be from me. So when people DM me, it's really me responding, and people DM me all the time. "Hey, there's a spot right here. Hey, there's a spot right there." I'm like, "Cool. I'll post it. I'll post a picture. I'll tag the city official. I'll ask people what they think. This is on your district. If you give me the number to the office, I'll call the office. Coordinate a clean-up", and that's how a lot of my clean-ups have been organized. People like, "Hey, this is a huge issue right here".
I called the council person, I call the state rep. They're like, "Sure. We know who you are, you're Fav Trashman, what can we do?" I said, "Can we get a clean-up on your state?" "Sure." I make a flyer. I asked for volunteers to come out and T-Mobile, goPuff, and [unintelligible 00:25:53] comes out, give stuff to the volunteers, and we make it a fun event, but at the end of the day, you look back at the before and after, and you're like, "Wow, in four hours. We did this".
One of my biggest clean-ups to date was the clean-up I did in North Philadelphia by Temple's Campus with a [unintelligible 00:26:17] State Rep, Malcolm Kenyatta. We did it on Martin Luther King day of service, January 15th. I think it was the January- I forget. I think it was the 10th or 15th, one of them. We ended up in six abandoned labs that have been sitting on his block forever. I mean, it was just trash, everywhere. We ended up cleaning the all six of us. When I saw the wasteland, it was two tons of trash that we got off the street.
[00:26:46] Liz: [crosstalk]
[00:26:47] Terrill: I've had other departments come in and bring food. We dropped off food to the residents, and everything on that block. Picture to yourself, how to [unintelligible 00:27:02] on that block is going to protect their block now, that complete strangers came-- And it was like 200 people out there. Complete strangers came, cleaned up their block, left, and didn't ask for nothing. Just [crosstalk]
[00:27:19] Liz: Amazing. You're right, that's what happens. That's what happens, they want to protect it. They may not have helped, or even realized how much it needed to be done, but when they see it, they think, "Hey, this is a better way for our block to look, and our neighborhood to look. I'm proud of it." Appreciate it, and then they'll protect it. Just like you were saying when the trees are added, when people see things are improving and looking good, they want to keep it looking good, and they have a sense of pride about that. You're really stoking that fire. I think it's awesome.
[00:27:52] Terrill: That's the whole goal. We talked about Philadelphia, you got to talk about the gunfire. You got to talk about the drugs. You got to talk about the opioid epidemic that we're experiencing in part of the city, but I believe all of that can be addressed if we just pick up the trash first, because what people do is they use the trash on the ground and they use how dirty the city as a crutch.
My mother was always going to be like, "I'm going to take the crutch away", and once I take the crutch away, it's time to do work. You have nothing else to lean on. That's what I want to do. I want to remove the crutch of litter of trash, of illegal dumping, and now we need go to these elected officials go, "Hey, there's no more trash on the ground. What are you going to do about this now?" Now they need to have a game plan.
[00:28:46] Liz: It's so true. I love that you're doing this. I think it's amazing. For you even to go down the road with the voting campaign and trying to get a million people to register, that's ambitious, but you're going to do it. I know you will.
[00:29:03] Terrill: Thank you. I appreciate you encouraging me like that, that's why when Rachel connected us, I was like, "There is no platform too big. There is no platform too small to ever not hear my story", because the more people that hear my story, the more people that hear what I'm trying to do, the more people that I'm reaching. Somebody's going to be like the [unintelligible 00:29:33] weapon, the weapon X, the unmeasurable and there's going to be able to really push this needle.
That's why I take every opportunity I can to tell my story, to tell why I'm doing it, to say what I'm doing next, to say my goals. I just went over it all out on the table and every conversation, because I don't know who's going to hear this. Somebody might hear this interview or this podcast between us and they're like, "Oh, I'm Joe Biden's cousin. I can help." I just got to keep telling my story. I got to keep being honest. I have to keep being authentic, and I have to keep doing the work. I have to keep cleaning the city with every resource that I have, and I got to keep people excited, energized, and keep the fire burning.
That's what I wake up and do all the time. I just resigned from the Sanitation Department in Philadelphia last month. It doesn't mean I'm not a sanitation worker anymore. It just means the city of Philadelphia is not my employer. That's the way I look at it. I'm a sanitation worker for community. That's how I see myself. I just felt like I needed to have a bigger cause because there's a bigger issue at hand, and I just need all the hours in the day to fight this with everything I got in me.
I chose to do that and I haven't been happier. I love waking up, having these conversations, talking to people, and getting things organized. I have the City Commissioner's Office partnering with me on this voter registration, voter education project. I get to really impact the lowest-performing districts and wards here in Philadelphia. I get to take them food and I get to go clean their neighborhoods, and then we get to talk about elected officials. There's no better time [laughs].
[00:31:38] Liz: [laughs] No better time. That's fantastic that you're dedicating yourself to that. Can you imagine if every city in our country had one of you, a Terrill who's there doing this and promoting good?
[00:31:51] Terrill: Listen, I'm down to start with Fav Trashman chapters all around the country. I'm down. Let's get it done. I'm down to get some trash ambassadors all around the country and we can meet on Zoom once a week, we could game plan, and organize the masses in every major city and county. I'm down. That is something I want to do as well. Because I think, at a large, if the whole country is talking about this, it's going to be a movement.
It's definitely going to be a movement. I think we'll honestly get to the Senate and maybe we'll get to Biden's desk for some new laws about sanitation and how we're treated. A lot of sanitation workers still hasn't been vaccinated yet. We're just as important as EMT and nurses. We hit it hard on, face on. There's been people that have picked up the cans and tissue's been everywhere, and we're looking like, "We know those are corona tissue".
[00:32:57] Liz: Right. You guys shouldn't-
[00:33:59] Terrill: Yes, they treat us like we aren't essential. We haven't stopped working through the pandemic, but I should say, they call us essential but they don't treat it as very essential. I can only speak about my truth, when Governor Wolf came out with the hazardous pay grant in Pennsylvania, he left sanitation workers off the list and I was furious.
I'm like, "How do you leave sanitation workers off the list?" No knock to anybody else, but you got grocery store workers and people who are cleaning-- guys like this getting hazardous pay, but you have people that are keeping the city clean, keeping diseases down, and sanitation deal with wildlife. We have to be therapists sometimes when people come out angry at the city, but they want to take it out on us. We deal with people trying to get in on the trash truck, driving 90 miles.
We do a lot of that, and then to have people in positions of power say, "You guys don't get any hazardous pay." Here in Philadelphia, we have a whole opioid epidemic at one part of the city. I have had coworkers get stuck by needles, rushed to the hospital, they got to take pills now because they don't know where the needle came from, they got to get shots. They got to be on [unintelligible 00:34:34] for six months.
A whole life changed because you were doing your job and there was a needle in the trash and it poked you. Needles get punched through his gloves unless attack that part of the city separately. We need a whole different sanitation plan for that. There's a way but it's just hard to me that some of my coworkers are still getting poked-- They are not my co-workers anymore, but sanitation workers in Philadelphia are still catching COVID at an alarming rate.
If you think about it, there's three people to a truck. You guys sit less than six inches apart. Everybody's pockets touch in the truck. If one person tests positive, you do know the other two at least have to quarantine. There's 200 people at a yard, and we had like 400 people quarantining. That's two yards. That's two parts of the city that's not going to get picked up for two weeks. We're bound to have more delays if we don't get a proper plan in place.
[00:35:38] Liz: Exactly. I know some of the associations in the industry are pushing for that, want you to be essential, and want you to have everything that you need to make sure you can do your job safely. We really need to keep pushing for that. You guys are frontline and you need to be protected.
[00:35:58] Terrill: Yes, I agree. It's just going to take some recognition. It's going to take a little shine in the media, so that's how I use my Instagram to keep advocating, because like I said, somebody's going to see it, somebody is going to care about it, but then on the backend, let's get some elected officials then that care about it as well, so we attack this [unintelligible 00:36:21] from two sides.
[00:36:22] Liz: Absolutely. It's the way to go. I'm just so impressed with the way that you tackle everything with a solutions oriented mindset. Because there are a ton of challenges and, like you said, the pandemic it has done everyone some of the cracks and hopefully, they will be fixed. I just love the way that you're attacking this with such energy and such a positive outlook because change is happening and we're having- go ahead.
[00:36:51] Terrill: Yes, I understand. There's no reason to be negative. We're not blaming anybody. It's been the way of life forever. I just want to get to the solution and I just want people around me that want the solution, too. That's why I never point fingers. I never blame anybody. It's nobody's fault. It's everybody's fault, but that's everybody's fixing it.
[00:37:15] Liz: Exactly. It's interesting you say that because that's the way you make any change. When we talk about the recycling infrastructure and how it's going to take MRFs, brands, policy to all come together to fix it. It's the same in this case, too. It takes a village and that's happening. Hopefully more positive change will come [laughs].
[00:37:38] Terrill: You hit it right on the head.
[00:37:42] Liz: I think you said in your Inquirer article, Terrill-- you said something like that as you grow, your goals have to grow right. What are your goals now beyond your voting campaign and some of the other things? But ultimately, what would you love to see happen as your ultimate goal?
[00:38:06] Terrill: My ultimate goal is always going to be to see sanitation workers get hazardous pay, to see sanitation workers' wages get raised. When I first started, my base rate was $31,000. There's no way you can survive off of $31,000 in 2021. Especially doing the job that I'm doing, putting my body at risk every single day. I say it all the time that I didn't realize how much you walked.
One time I paid my patient warrants. I had taken 40,000 steps in one bout. In one shift. These are the things that when you can add a number to it, you can show proof, see how you just said, "Wow"? Now forever you're going to know that there's a sanitation worker somewhere walking 40,000 steps a day to pick up trash. They deserve hazardous pay. They deserve a raise in their wages. They deserve the top-of-the-line benefit.
Once that is all done, I would love to, like I said, get a new Fav Trashman chapter in every single major city here in the country. Then I would love to just travel the country, talk, and educate people about how sanitation and politics are a lot closer than what we think. How in every city, if you marry the two, your city can literally change a lot. Those are some big goals.
Yes, travel the world, speak to people, educate people and teach people what I did using social media as a grassroots movement and just really shift the whole narrative in this country when it comes to sanitation. A lot of other countries guided, like you said earlier, had it right when it comes to their sanitation, America has to catch up. If I'm going to be the faith, if I'm going to be the poster boy, if I'm going to be the spokesperson, like I said I'll take that charge, but I know I can't do it alone. A wise man tells me all the time, "If you want to go fast, you go alone. If you want to go far, you go with others." That's my mentality.
[00:40:38] Liz: That's great. Awesome. I know you have three kids, are you getting them involved at all?
[00:40:44] Terrill: Yes. My son actually came to one of the first clean-ups. My kids are nine, eight, and four, all they really care about is being on TV, seeing their picture in the news, and telling everybody that their dad is Ya Fav Trashman. That's [laughs] really all they care about. I try to have conversations with them about what it means when you clean and how you feel when you wake up and you don't see trash on the ground, versus when you wake up and you see stuff blowing down the street.
We're starting that conversation, but I just think it's a little too early for them. I am real all the time, the same Ya Fav Trashman you see on Instagram, is the same Ya Fav Trashman that you're going to see on wildlife.
[00:41:35] Liz: I love it. I have to ask you, I told you I was born in Philly, right? Tell me, what do you think about the quarterback situation? Did you want to see Vince go? What do you think?
[00:41:47] Terrill: I did not. I did not want to see Vince go. I was hurt a little bit, I believe that everyone has an off year and it's a pandemic. Our whole offensive line was hurt, we didn't really have training and we didn't have real weapons to [unintelligible 00:42:05]. DeSean Jackson was hurt half the season, I was like, "Definitely [unintelligible 00:42:08] half the season".
I think they should have stuck it out, and try to make it work but it's really bad planning that you get rid of Doug Pederson and you get rid of Carson, I'm like, "How did that work?" Because I thought it was either or, but we got rid of both of them. I don't know. I don't know anything about the Eagles right now. Honestly, I don't trust Howie. I think Howie has hit his peak and he's on his downfall, so we need to get a new GM, but my fixtures are looking amazing.
[00:42:42] Liz: Yes, they are. That's so impressive, MVP for Joelle, right? MVP.
[00:42:49] Terrill: Yes. He definitely deserves it. I don't think it's fair that Brooklyn [unintelligible 00:42:54] Blake Griffin, but we got to see how the fixtures play against them, fully stocked and healthy. It's going to be a great series if it ends up being [unintelligible 00:43:05] conference with the Brooklyn Nets and the Sixers, it's going to be a very interesting year in basketball because I think the Sixers have all the piece.
I love what Doc has done with the offense, the chemistry, and the narrative. He got to bias Harris back to playing like 2015, 2016. I just love Doc as a thinker, as a planner, as a coach, as a facilitator, as a motivator. Not to bring it back to the trash, but me as an organizer, I look at certain people like that to see how Doc came into a situation, was able to shift the whole energy of the locker room. I want to be like the Doc Rivers of sanitation, I just want to shift the whole energy in the country.
[00:44:03] Liz: I love that. Oh my God, Doc would be proud too. That's awesome.
[00:44:09] Terrill: Yes.
[00:44:10] Liz: Did you see that he's on that coaching series on Netflix? It's so profound to see how he thinks and his decades in the NBA. If you haven't watched it, give it a watch, especially from the thinking perspective. I just respect him even more after watching that, I was so happy he came to Philly.
[00:44:33] Terrill: Okay, cool. I haven't watch it, I'm going to put it on my list. I just been reading books lately. It's interesting that you asked me about my next goals and stuff because people always say, "Are you going to run for office? Are you going to do this?" I'm like, "I don't know anything about that", but I think we're in a stage right now in America, in a phase where we need people who are not politicians.
If you notice, I haven't said the word politicians all the time. I just said we need people in positions of power because when you say politician, to me, I get a certain feeling. I get a certain achiness because we just been so hurt and so disappointed by politicians in the past. They say they're going to do one thing, they run on this subject, and then when they get an office, they forget.
That's why I keep saying let's elect people and put them in positions of power because when you have people instead of politicians, people care about people, people care about human beings. There's a human side, there's a nurturing side, there's a softness to people that I think when people call themselves a career politician, it's just this, I just don't feel it.
[00:45:57] Liz: Absolutely. Getting back to trash and that's what you're doing, you're humanizing the sanitation worker. Whenever you do that, whether it's in politics or in sanitation, it really shines that light, people can relate, they buy in, and then they're engaged. You're absolutely right.
[00:46:19] Terrill: Yes. That's what Doc did, Doc was able to get everybody, Doc was able to get Ben send this to buy into the fact that he could be great offensively and defensively. He had a stretch of 70 games, where he averaged wanted 15 points. That's all that we as human beings with issues and that's we as community wants to do. There's not the people that say they're going to fight for us to buy into our issues, and then let's just work together to win the championship.
[00:46:52] Liz: Absolutely, I'd love it. I think you are the Doc Rivers of sanitation workers throughout.
[00:47:02] Terrill: I hope to.
[00:47:03] Liz: I'm crowning you with that, and knowing to you with that title right now [laughs]
[00:47:07] Terrill: I'll take it. I will take the crown and wear it proudly.
[00:47:11] Liz: [laughs] Awesome. This has been wonderful, I'm so happy you shared your story, your ambitions, and where you want this all to go. I'm supporting you in all of that, I can't wait for more people to hear your story. Thank you for all the work you're doing.
[00:47:29] Terrill: I appreciate it. Thank you for the kind words, I'm just going to keep fighting. I'm just going to keep fighting.
[00:47:36] Liz: That's awesome. You're accomplishing big things, and I know more will come. Thank you again, and I'll let you get back to your busy day changing Philly.
[00:47:47] Terrill: Thank you.
[00:47:49] Liz: Thank you for listening. It would mean the world if you would take a moment to rate or review this podcast, and if you share it with us on one of our social networks. We are giving out some fun, Nothing Wasted Podcastswag. Just tag us and see what you get. Thanks so much.