Chasing Sanitation

Falling in Love with New York's Strongest

:: A Sanitation Worker’s Prayer at Roll Call ::

Sanitation garages are never in the middle of a neighborhood. They skirt the rivers, the edges of communities, the far reaches of the city’s hustle.

Dirty on the Outside, Warm on the Inside

The garages are the size of movie studios, filled with the ways and means to getting the job done. The collection trucks, the offices, the supervisors’ cars, the plows, the chains – the big, the bulky, the steely of Sanitation.

Walk in one and you’re easily dwarfed by the expanse of machines. Continue in, and you’ll bump into a different kind of steely.



At roll call on a dark early Friday morning in August in the Bronx, the crew gathered for roll call and shared a moment together. We were lucky to be here.

We were honored for a fly-on-the-wall witness of what this particular garage does to unify the team – after roll call, after getting their route assignments, after the coffee and whatever it took to get them up and moving at 6am. Not everyone lives in the Bronx, not everyone’s Christian, not everyone’s Atheist. But everyone’s a New Yorker and everyone will be moving the City’s garbage out of the way among people trying to get to work on time.


I’ll keep saying it: it is a dangerous job. Every day, every minute and it’s hard. It’s not all driving in a truck. It’s 16 tons of germ-ridden, vermin-preyed, and criminal evidence we’ll never know the hidden story behind. It’s baby bottles and diapers and kitty litter and doggie bags of leftover gone bad. It’s hypodermic needles illegally obtained and shared. It’s whatever else we waste of what is private in our own homes.

Sure, it’s not taking a shot for your partner – well, you hope it’s not.

And so, on this morning, SanMan William Holmes stepped up to offer up a few thoughts to whatever God or Protector that’s floating around the lives of these men and women. On the edge of the city, before the sun is up, a crew takes a moment.

Here is that request to God:

William Holmes



“Everlasting to Everlasting,

We come to you this morning to give you praise and glory and honor, to thank you for waking us up this morning in our right minds and keeping us safe through the night.

We want to thank you for your love, mercy and grace. And as we pray to you, a perfect God, we come to you as imperfect people asking forgiveness of our sins. We ask these all you Lord for your forgiveness. And we ask that you look upon those today who are out sick, out on LODI, and we ask for special healings for whatever their infirmities are.

Bless the supervisors and officers who have charge over us. Bless them with godly wisdom.

We ask you, Lord God, that you protect us today.
We ask that you cover us.

Cover us with the blood of Christ that was shed on Calvary. Keep us safe on the highways and byways, from dangers seen and unseen.

May the words of my mouth and meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight.

Oh Lord, Our Strength and Our Redeemer, In Christ’s name. Amen.”

Given by William “Reverend Minister” Holmes, Bronx 8, August 28, 2009



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One Response to “:: A Sanitation Worker’s Prayer at Roll Call ::”

  1. Dan Bruscella says:

    Looking at the pics from a roll call brings back memories for me. My first roll call was 4/29/74 in what is now M7. My last roll call was 1/16/99 in M2 as I prepared to retire as the District Super. I wish all sanworkers and supervisors a safe day out there. You do great work and you have the best job in the world.Live long enough to enjoy the fruits of your labor in retirement like I have.

    Danny Bruscella

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