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At age 60, Robert Bloodworth still goes out with garbage trucks during the week

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Robert Bloodworth has been working as a garbage man long enough to know how to beat the heat and find the good in life.

“Basically, I get focused on what’s going on around me and what I’ve got to do. And I know how to get out of it for a while,” Bloodworth said about working in 90-degree temperatures. “You learn to adapt. That’s why I’ve been here as long as I have.”

An employee of the Rome Solid Waste Department for 14 years, Bloodworth will turn 61 next month — and he’ll continue to go out with a truck during the week to pick up the trash.

Bloodworth and about 40 of his co-workers will be treated to lunch by the city today in recognition of National Garbage Man Day.

Bloodworth started with the department on the back of the regular garbage trucks. He began helping with the yard waste collection truck, gathering items left out by customers, after he began to have knee problems.

“He’s just a great person,” said Donnie Barrett, Solid Waste Department director. “There are times when I tell him he doesn’t have to do all of the things that he does, but he’ll be sure to do them just so he can serve the public.”

When he was on the garbage trucks, Bloodworth said, he knew who usually had garbage to be collected, and if a can or cart wasn’t on the curb he would walk to the carport or garage and get it for them.

“That’s how I go about my day — asking ‘what can I do to help,’” Bloodworth said. “That’s what’s changed about me and how I live my life.”

Bloodworth served two 18-month sentences in two different county jails in Georgia when he was younger. He said his last stretch is when he got the message that was not the life for him.

“I learned to take care of the public and put them first,” he said, adding that he worked in the restaurant business before coming to the city’s Solid Waste Department.

He still mentors and talks to inmates at the Floyd County Prison during church services.

“He lets them know, just because you messed up doesn’t mean you have to do it again,” said Barrett, who served as deputy warden over security at the facility before starting with the city in 2004.

Bloodworth said he doesn’t move as swiftly as he used to, but he is still able to get out every day and work. And that’s fine with him.

“I see people who retire and not do anything and just wither away,” Bloodworth said. “I’ve always told myself that’s not going to happen to me.”