I can still remember the wonderment of watching as the big yellow back hoes descended onto my childhood street. My youngest brother and I watched for hours as the amazing machines took out the old road chunk-by-chunk, followed by another set of rolling machines making a new, smooth road.
So it was with great anticipation that I went on a recent visit to Largo's Public Works, where I could actually touch the trucks I had just watched as a kid (we did not have touch-a-truck events like the ones in Largo's Central Park).
And it was way more cool than just driving a forklift, as advertised in the Largo Citizen's Academy promotion blurb. We got off the bus in the back lot of the Public Works department and had our pick of trucks to check out.
I started with picking up trash — the department is actually called the Solid Waste Division. I climbed up into the big orange truck with several strategically placed steps and handles. The door shut, and it was me with the levers and yes, a very helpful operator from the City of Largo. He patiently showed me the three knobs to pull to grasp, lift and empty the trash can. While it was cool to do once, big kudos to the operators who do this more than 1,000 times a day without hitting mailboxes and curbs!
Next I checked out the heavy, hydraulic equipment (much bigger than the back hoes of my childhood). It was a bit scary that a wrong move could potentially do some serious damage, but there was nothing around to knock down, and again a very helpful operator from the City of Largo patiently showed how to dig dirt with a series of orchestrated knobs and levers and release the big clump once again.
Last it was on to clean the streets. Have you ever driven from the right side of a vehicle? Well, Largo's street sweepers have the option of being driven on the right or left (kind of like those driver's ed vehicles from high school), though the operator said he is very used to driving on the right because it makes it easier to clean close to the curbs.
Thanks to the awesome team at Largo Public Works who take care of this community often behind the scenes every day!