Trash hauler’s integrity pays off as Grand County Waste Management employee earns Fiesta Bowl trip
Grand County, Colorado
It’s a busy time of year for trash hauler Mike Seebaum, who spent Wednesday picking up loads of discarded boxes and holiday wrappings.
He would complete 167 stops by the end of the day, and because New Year’s Day was a holiday, his route would compound to 210 stops during catch-up day Friday.
But Seebaum, who prides himself in knowing the names of 600 of his customers, is looking forward to missing the holiday heavy-duty work day as he ushers in 2009 happily on vacation ” a vacation awarded to him by the corporate bosses themselves.
Seebaum and wife Debbie left Thursday for the Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Arizona.
“We’ll be cheering on the Texas Longhorns,” Seebaum said.
Seebaum was one of 14 Waste Management employees out of 60,000 nationwide to be recognized for exemplary customer service.
Back in March, the residential route driver was dumping contents from a plastic bin when he noticed a stack of five $100 bills lying in the hopper amid papers and trash.
“I crawled right in there,” Seebaum said.
His first instinct was to stuff the cash into his pockets, but it didn’t stay there for long.
“I kept pulling it out and looking at it. I thought, ‘that ain’t right, somebody’s got to be missing this.’
“I guess God had all my pockets sewn shut,” he continued.
Seebaum ascended to the rental house where the trash bin belonged. A friend of the owner of the house was staying there, and Seebaum gave him the $500 to give to the owner.
“It made me feel a lot better afterwards that I did the right thing,” Seebaum said. “I would have felt guilty if I’d just stuck it in my pocket and left.”
The owner of the house received the bills and for the next five months, Seebaum was later told, she tried to find whose money it was.
According to Seebaum, it was as if the money had been set down among newspapers and magazines, then more periodicals inadvertently buried the money until it ended up in the trash.
Unable to find the claimant, the homeowner sent the money back to the trashman last fall.
The Seebaums used the $500 to pay bills.
Word got out about the act of honesty, and Seebaum was featured in Waste Management’s national corporate newsletter. Then, in early December, he learned about the free trip to the Fiesta Bowl.
“I’m still surprised,” Seebaum said while taking an afternoon break in his truck.
Eating barbecued ribs he’d re-heated in foil on the truck’s defroster, Seebaum looked at the ski area, Winter Park and all the peaks in the west.
The Hot Sulphur Springs resident, who said he loves his job for the benefits, his co-workers and the customers, said things like that rarely occur to a “small-town boy.”
In the long run, his honesty’s paid off, he said.
“Now the whole company thinks I’m pretty cool.”
” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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