“You begged me every every day!” explained Virginia Alexander, supervisor and performer in The Trash Project, about why she decided to be in the show. So glad my begging worked!
When I met Virginia Alexander in 2008 she was the only female supervisor with Solid Waste Services. Virginia was famous at the job. She had long dreadlocks, boxed after work and didn’t let any man show her up or tell her what to do. Her crew respected her and she worked them hard. I knew I had to get Virginia in the show. I just had to figure out how to charm her.
As supervisor over yard trimmings, Virginia managed the collection of large bags of leaves, other yard waste and Christmas trees after the holidays. During peak leaf season, her crews might have 40 extra-large bags to pick up at one single stop—completing 100s of stops a day. She was an expert at throwing these heavy bags into the back of the truck at a run. The drivers just had to be sure they were going fast enough to keep up with her pace.
One cold morning in January I showed up for my ride out with Virginia. I was wearing my usual wardrobe- steel toed boots, work pants, a long sleeve shirt and pretty flimsy jacket. It was pouring rain and Virginia looked at me and said, “You really want to do this today?” I knew I had to say yes, so enthusiastically I replied, “You bet!”. “Ok,” she said and asked me to follow her to the supply closet, where she got me an extra long high ves rain coat and waterproof gloves. She basically outfitted me—because with what I was wearing I wasn’t gonna last 30 minutes.
We headed out and we moved fast. I mostly kept up, and tried not to complain about not being able to feel my fingers. She put me on the back of the truck, and I threw bags as fast as I could but of course couldn’t keep up with her. We also picked up lots of Christmas trees, which we threw in the back of the hopper to eventually be turned into compost. By the end of the morning, we had done most of the route and for extra fun stopped by my house and grabbed our Christmas tree that was sitting out waiting for pick up.
So now that I ridden out with Virginia I had an idea for her part in the show. It seemed appropriate that Virginia would throw yard trimming bags—a duet of sorts between her and a truck and it’s operator. We would set up 50 or so bags and she would run along the route and throw the bags in the back of the truck—all lasting about 1:30. I kept asking her about it. I told her we HAD to have the only female supervisor in the show. We just HAD to.
Here is how Virginia remembers it: “You begged me. You begged every day. And I told you no, no, no. And you just kept begging me.” Guess I was good at begging.
Lots of people helped me convince Virginia. “Everyone said go ahead and just do it,” she remembered. And for Virginia, it was a chance to show people her work. “It was a way to show people what we do on a daily basis. That we actually do a job. People always say we don’t work, that we just waste people’s taxes.”
Virginia had fun. She also liked how through the show, she and her fellow workers came together as a family. “We really do care about each other. We are a family, and we came together as one.” She continued, “It was a great experience. It was joyful. We had so much fun. I met a lot of people. I go out in the community and they know me. That feels so wonderful.”
It is easy to love Virginia. We have a great friendship. As she puts it: “So I finally just gave into Ms. Allison and we are so much in love with each other now.” Yes, Virginia. Absolutely.