Waste Collection Crew, Key Waste
In conversation with Mary McCarthy
I get up at 5.15am, make coffee and 25 minutes later I'm in the car - I live too far to take the bus. Before Covid I would meet around 10 to 15 of my colleagues at the petrol station near work to have a coffee and a laugh. That has been hard not being able to gather and talk in the mornings.
At 6.30am the working day begins and we get into the trucks. We would have maybe 100 places to call but these days we are finishing up much earlier, around 2pm or 3pm - mainly because the traffic is so light.
With pubs closed we are quiet there but residential waste has increased. We are calling at some apartment complexes now twice a week instead of once - everyone is painting and doing DIY. We would know the caretakers there so if they have problems they let us know.
We stop at a deli at the petrol station for 15 to 20 minutes around 8am or Burger King or McDonald's if in town. We stop for lunch between 1pm and 2pm; because we tip the rubbish in Covanta or Panda there is usually no need to return to Key Waste until we finish.
When I get home it's straight into the shower before I cuddle my baby Ryan Nikolas - he was born on March 27 so at first I was scared to come to work. From the start the company took all the measures and nobody got sick, but we were all nervous.
Baby Skip has been very busy in the lockdown period and I find people are throwing away good stuff like furniture and bikes that are reusable - they should give them to charity.
It is difficult for people who have lost jobs - I took a week off when my son was born but it would be harder for me to stay at home all day. We have craic and a bit of fun in the truck, the day passes faster this way.
I grew up in Motru, Oltenia, in the south of Romania, and at school I was above average at maths but without much knowledge I went to college over 300km away to study agriculture and environmental studies in Timisoara. Aged 16 and 17 I spent my high school summers in the UK, in Slough and another place beside Heathrow, picking fruit and vegetables.
My brother-in-law was working there and got me the job - we had fun, about 20 lads working together and we were laughing all the time. It was hard work but the pay was good - 1,200 per month so when I got back to Romania I bought a car.
My English was better than most of the lads so the boss would take me with him to do the papers - growing up my parents had always paid for me to have extra English lessons on Saturdays.
When I left college nine years ago my mother was working in the city hall for the mayor and I was offered a job in an environment area but it only paid €300 a month.
Even if I was living at home it would be hard for me to live on that. My sister had since moved to Ireland and my brother-in-law was working at Key Waste so again helped me find a job. They told me Ireland was a nice place to live so I thought why not for a few years? I was 21 and the plan was to save enough to buy a flat back in Timisoara. I worked for one-and-a-half years - the money was flying in. I was enjoying life; I made friends - people I met at work and when I went out at night in Bray.
My girlfriend was finishing university in Romania so after one-and-a-half years I moved back and we had a big wedding. On our honeymoon in the Dominican Republic we were talking one evening and decided there and then to return to Ireland. My wife Christina moved over and got a job as a caretaker in a company and two years ago we bought an apartment in Greystones.
We have a lot of customers in the city centre and when I used to work nights I needed to take a lot of extra caution. In Temple Bar everybody is partying and you have to drive very slowly.
One night I remember an extremely smelly organic bin we picked up, which maybe had not been put out for a while, and it was so bad we had people shouting at us in the street. I had to go back and wash down the truck. I don't miss nights like that.
Luckily we have two bedrooms so Christina can sleep in the other room with Ryan when I am getting up for work the next day - he is not crying too much so it's not too bad.
We often have a work barbecue on the weekends and management comes too - I miss seeing my friends recently and it is not enough talking on the phone.
We go for a walk by the sea on Saturday and Sunday and Christina goes every day with the baby. My sister lives in Shankill and has two children so we often meet. My brother-in-law works for Dublin Bus now.
My mother was planning to visit for a couple of months so that had to be put off which is a shame. We go back every year and are booked to go in August for three weeks.
I miss my parents and relatives but we prefer living in Ireland and we like our jobs. In Romania even if you have work you are working to survive; it is better here, we feel secure.