Friday, July 1, 2022

Our Gary set to wave goodbye

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Chris Oldfield, Naracoorte Community News

Naracoorte’s iconic garbo Gary Carter will give his final wave from the helm of a $450,000 state-of-the art truck on June 29.

Switching off his 6am alarm each day, he is possibly the district’s longest-serving and happiest garbo.

Since March 20, 1994, Gary’s touching wave and generous smile have lifted the spirits of many as well as fascinated children who stand and wait to wave too.

“There’s no point walking around grumpy, what does that do for anyone?” said Gary who has rarely had a sick day throughout his working life.

“If you can make someone smile and feel happy, you’ve done a pretty good job for the day, I reckon.

“It’s good for the company too, for Enviro Tec, there’s no harm in it, and I enjoy it.”

“You see the same people all the time, the same kids, the same people going to work, coming home from work – you give them a wave and it makes their day.

“It makes my day too. Every day there are kids who come out and stand on the street and wave at me.”

“There are people who wait for me to give them a wave. They tell me if I’m early, or five minutes late as well,” he laughed.

Gary was born at Semaphore in Adelaide and as a young child moved with his parents to Port Adelaide, Elizabeth and then Tantanoola.

The family arrived in Naracoorte when Gary was 15.

“I always wanted to be an archaeologist,” he said.

But at the time pre-requisite subjects like chemistry and physics were not available at Naracoorte High School.

Leaving school at 17 Gary did a stint driving trucks with the former Naracoorte Corporation and then joined the then Highways Department for almost 20 years.

He gained licences to drive all the heavy machinery like loaders and graders, but mainly drove semi-trailers with bitumen tankers and spray carts with the bitumen gang.

Gary recalls them building many of the bitumen roads throughout Naracoorte and Lucindale  and beyond.

During those years he also met and married his wonderful wife, Doris.

The couple had two daughters, Samantha and Belinda, and Gary is proud of their extended families which now includes six grandchildren.

“When I left the highways I did a bit of casual work for a while, and then I got a job driving a rubbish truck from March 20, 1994,” Gary said.

“Robin Gericke actually employed me. He and Graham Chaplin owned Environmental Services.

“I was the first person they employed with the company. So I was here right at the start of the business being formed.

“I worked directly with Graham Chaplin, and he involved me in everything – what new people to employ, what new trucks to buy, everything.

“It was all his decision in the end, but it was good to be involved and to be asked for my advice.”

Eventually the company was sold, and Gary has worked under two companies since, including its current ownership, Enviro Tec.

From the beginning “I liked it that you just got a truck and you went and did your job and got left alone”.

Gary said that aspect remains the same today, making it “a really good job”.

“When I first started with Environment Services, we had to stand on the back of the truck and pick the bins up.”

But it wasn’t long before the business bought side-loading trucks which made the job safer, cleaner and easier.

Since Enviro Tec has been involved, Gary has seen an even greater improvement with the introduction of their high tech $450,000 trucks which carry 10 tonnes of rubbish.

“It’s become a lot more technical now and a lot better,” he said. “Everything is a lot more reliable and cleaner.

“The cleanliness of the waste transfer station compared with when we used to tip rubbish in the rubbish dump – it is a lot better now.”

These days household waste ends up at the Brinkley Waste and Recycling Facility near Murray Bridge.

Among some memorable experiences, Gary once noticed the back of his truck on fire.

Calling up the CFS on a two-way radio he quickly dumped the load on the roadside, saving the truck.

“Someone had put hot ashes in their rubbish bin,” Gary said.

He recalls people putting tree stumps in their bins and even a four-cylinder engine block which smashed up the paddle and back of the rubbish truck.

“I got stabbed by a needle once years ago while picking up rubbish for Cleanaway over at Penola,” he said. “I had to have tests for AIDS and all sorts.”

These days one of the most common things Gary sees is people sneaking their rubbish into someone else’s bin.

“The worst thing to see is dead cats and dead animals in the rubbish, but no people thank goodness.

“It happens in the cities – they’ve found people and babies in bins. What would you do if you ever saw that?”

After 28 years Gary has only praise for Enviro Tec and its management of waste.

“Working with Trish and Chris has been a great privilege to me,” he said.

“They are really nice, good people to work for. You always get a laugh and get looked after.

“I really appreciate what Trish and Chris do. I hope their business thrives.

“I’m going to miss the kids and the people, and the people here at Enviro Tec.

“But it’s going to be nice not to worry about alarm clocks.”

Trish said all at Enviro Tec would miss Gary’s laughter, smiles and enthusiasm.

“We could always rely on Gary to turn up and be on time and we didn’t have to worry about him,” Trish said.

“We will miss him, that’s for sure.”

Naracoorte Community News 22 June 2022

This article appeared in Naracoorte Community News.

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