SC town sees its first female trash collector - FOX Carolina 21

SC town sees its first female trash collector

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Ethel Saddler operates a trash truck for the City of Laurens. (Aug. 6, 2012/FOX Carolina) Ethel Saddler operates a trash truck for the City of Laurens. (Aug. 6, 2012/FOX Carolina)
LAURENS, SC (FOX Carolina) -

She drives a truck and picks up your garbage, and she's the first woman in the city of Laurens to work for the Sanitation Department.

Ethel Saddler is from Laurens, but lived in Washington, DC, for a while. That's where she took part in a YWCA program called "Non-Traditional Work for Women." She decided she wanted to be a truck driver and eventually opened her own shop making hydraulic lines for heavy trucks.

When she moved back to Laurens about seven years ago, she said, "I didn't want to have a desk job; I wanted a job to do outside work."

The supervisor who hired her, Oscar Tribble, said he liked her skill set, but the guys on the sanitation crew needed to get used to the idea of a "her" on their team.

Now, Saddler and the men she works with say she is "one of the guys." She said she works at the same speed as the men and performs the same job.

Saddler has found that women in the community see her driving a truck, give her high fives and tell her she represents them.

She first drove a garbage truck when she first started at Laurens Sanitation, but in 2011, she had to take a medical leave for a battle so many women fight.

At the end of 2010, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She made it through, cancer free, thanks to support of her Sanitation Department family.

"I love the guys for supporting me a lot on that. They'd come and see me talk with me, (they'd say), ‘We miss you, when are you going to be back?' I said I'll be back in 10 months, and I was back in 10 months," Saddler said.

Her clean-up crew partner on Monday, Jamaal Miller, said any woman could do it if she's as tough as Saddler.

Tribble said when Saddler started, driving that garbage truck, she did it "better than any man I ever had."

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