What is the first thing you think of when you think of New York? The Freedom Tower? Maybe the Statue of Liberty? How about those never-ending lines of taxis headed to Times Square? For Robin Nagel, it’s trash. Robin is a clinical associate professor of anthropology at NYU, and since 2006, Nagel has been the New York City Department of Sanitation’s anthropologist-in-residence. She rode around in the garbage trucks to get an authentic feel of the profession, and even dressed up in uniform to work with them. For Nagel, this experience allowed her to learn more about the importance of the people working behind the scenes-with little to no acknowledgement-and how large their impact is on us. Yes, New York is quite the city, but it is only as attractive as the sanitation workers make it. So next time you see someone cleaning up, give them a quick “Thank You!” Cleaning up the messes of others is probably not number one on too many coveted job positions. Robin’s overall theme is that everyone has a certain role in society, and no matter how insignificant we think they are, every role is equally important-and she is right.
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