He was applying for a job on a refuse truck working for the City. This is a very good job for someone whose hiring prospects are otherwise limited. Excellent benefits, all state and federal holidays off, health insurance for oneself and one’s family, physical exercise in the fresh air. (All right, this was Camden, New Jersey, so exercise in some kind of air.) And one more plus: If the team is efficient and hardworking and get through their rounds by 11:30 am or noon, they can take the rest of the day off, yet get paid as if they’d worked the whole 5 am-to-1 pm shift.
I was the doctor doing his pre-placement physical exam–designed to determine if the potential employee has medical conditions or takes medicines (or recreational drugs) that might interfere with the employee “performing essential job functions in a safe, regular, and reliable fashion.”
He was twenty-five, slender but muscular, and very excited about the prospect of this job. He was polite and engaging. He surely was capable of lifting cans into the “load-packer” and running beside, or hanging onto the side of, the trash truck as it went on its rounds cleaning …