When Bill Joyner reports for work at 5 a.m., most Puyallup residents are still sleeping.
Joyner has maintained that schedule — 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 4 a.m. to noon on Fridays — for the past 16 years. Both the hours and the job seem to agree with him.
Most every resident has seen Joyner now and again. He drives a big Puyallup sweeper. His job is Maintenance Operator 3.
“That means I run the sweepers, and when it is snowing, I run the snow plows in the snow, and when it is icy, I run the de-icers,” Joyner said. “When there is a snow event, we all go on 12-hour shifts so the city is manned 24 hours a day.”
The Herald recently sat down with Joyner to look back on his history with the city.
Puyallup Herald: When were you hired by the City of Puyallup?
Bill Joyner: I started out as a laborer in the street department 21 years ago and did streets, painted stripes for three years, and then got a promotion as a truck driver. When the bid for this job came up, I applied for it.
PH: What do you like about your job?
BJ: When I first came to work here, I was raising three kids alone, and the hours made it easy for me to pick my kids up from school. I don’t mind working by myself, and I enjoy waving to the people.
For some reason, I love Puyallup. It has a hometown feel, and people are friendly. One of the things I really enjoy is when I stop by a store and see one of the citizens, and they come up and say I am doing a nice job. They appreciate it, but I have to thank Ken Davies, my boss, because he makes sure the mechanics keep everything rolling.
PH: How does your sweeper work?
BJ: There is a big vacuum, and that sucks the debris up into the hopper. I drive back here (to the public works corporate yard at 1100 39th Ave. SE) and put the debris in a container that is hauled off to a designated area.
I drive in the gutter line and also sweep the center of the streets. One of the main purposes of the sweepers is to keep that debris out of the catch basins so it doesn’t get into the drinking water.
PH: Have you ever had an accident?
BJ: In 16 years, I’ve never had one. I wear earplugs, and I can hear the radio, but the sitting is difficult. Like most truck drivers, I have problems with my back. I know that drivers and pedestrians have the right of way; in my mind, everyone else has the right of way.
Joyner knows the date he plans to retire: May 11, 2014. He has several rental homes and old cars to work on, and he plans to spend more time with his grown children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“The city has been good to me, and I love working for them,” he said. “When I retire, it won’t just be retirement, I’ll just be getting out of the sweeper.”Joan Cronk is a freelance reporter for the Herald.