By GARY CHIGWIDDEN
Byron Bay's Mick Simpson is the sort of worker bosses just love - 38 years on the job and not one sickie.
But it all comes to an end on Friday, January 28 when Mick finally retires as a garbologist with Richmond Waste.
He started back in 1967 with the parent company, J J Richards, as a sanitary carter, moving on to garbage trucks when the sewer was finally connected in the Byron Shire some years later.
Being a novice sanitary man had its pitfalls as Mick discovered as he did the rounds carrying pans on his shoulders.
"I dripped it down my back a couple of times," he said.
"After a fortnight I learned to carry them pretty straight.
"One lesson I learned too was never go under clothes- lines."
Mick also recalled the time when he drove the sanitary truck too quickly out of a Bangalow side street and eight full pans tumbled out on to the road.
He said he started to clean up the mess but a sudden, heavy storm completed the job for him.
Collecting rubbish in the early days was a lot different to today's mechanised system.
It was one truck, one man on the garbage run. Mick would drive, jump out, empty the bins and even jump up and down on the rubbish in the truck to pack it down.
His services were appreciated by residents too, who, in the tradition of the time, left out bottles of beer at Christmas time.
"There was lots of grog," he said.
Mick is proud of his record of not having one sickie in 38 years.
There were times, he said, that he was "awfully bloody sick", but it had a lot to do with what he had been drinking the night before.
And how does he explain such a proud record.
"The company has been very good to me," he said.
The father of five girls and now grandfather to 10 children - Mick is planning to take things a little bit easier in his retirement.
He plans to do some fishing in dams out west, but the "big trip" around Australia is not part of his immediate plans.
"I have been driving for 50 years and I don't want to go driving around Australia," he laughed.
"We (wife Lorna) will sort out a few things and have a few trips here and there."
Mick's last run will be at North Ocean Shores, New Brighton and South Golden Beach on January 28.
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