Garbo, rescuer … and laundry helper
Cleanaway driver Richard Carling while at work helped an elderly McKellar resident who had fell and broke her hip. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
In highfalutin language it might be called ''social cohesion'', but the story of Richard Carling the good Samaritan garbo is simply one about people looking out for one another.
The softly spoken driver with Cleanaway recycling came to the rescue of a severely injured McKellar woman who, without his assistance, might have found herself in even worse strife.
The woman, who did not wish to be named, is one of 848 people on a list kept by Cleanaway registering residents who are too old, infirm or otherwise incapacitated to put their bins in and out on collection day. Instead, the drivers get out of their trucks, collect the bins, empty the rubbish, and return the bins to their place in the household.
It was another busy Thursday for Mr Carling, who was returning the woman's bins to the side of the house when he heard cries for help.
''I went to the front door and couldn't get in, so went through the back gate and found the old lady lying on the ground and it looked like she'd been there for a while,'' he said. ''I asked what happened and she said she'd been putting some washing on the line and the cat had got under her legs and she'd fallen on the ground and couldn't get back up.''
The woman had dragged herself from the clothes line to the back door but could get no further.
Mr Carling picked her up, got her into the house and put her on the lounge.
''She was screaming and I thought, 'Oh my God'. I couldn't leave her here,'' he said. ''So I waited with her until the ambulance came.''
But his kind-heartedness didn't stop there.
''I asked her if she needed anything done and she said, 'Yes, I need someone to get my washing off'. So I went up and got her washing off the line. And then I just sat with her.''
It turned out the woman had broken her hip and was hospitalised.
''She said, lucky I heard her screaming out because she'd been there for a fair while and it was a pretty warm day that day, too, and the neighbours weren't home either.''
Mr Carling, 37, of Fisher said he just acted automatically. ''I didn't think too much of it really. You can't leave someone crying out for help. I was just there at the right time and I'm glad I was.''
He continues to check on the woman on his round. It's turned into just another aspect of a job he loves.
Mr Carling became a garbo at 15 after he was ''booted out of school for being naughty''. His father Les was also a garbo and that was back in the days of 4am starts, riding on the back of the truck and emptying the bins by hand.
''He thought he could get me back to school if he could run the rings out of me. But it didn't work. I loved the job,'' he said. And he doesn't look like leaving any time soon, saying he loves ''being by yourself, being outside''.
His father was in the job for 26 years. ''So I've got a bit of a goal myself, to beat 26 years.''