hiviz353

The writer.

Recently, I've been working as a council garbage man pouring your lovely household rubbish into the back of a compactor truck at 5am.

Aside from the pleasure of working with guys who have absolutely no pretensions, the experience reminded me how calls for gender equality so often assume all men are equally placed to "repress" women.

I've often heard and read women of a certain age, weight or attractiveness claim they're sexually "invisible" to men because females are so unfairly judged on their appearance and youth.

What we rarely hear debated is how subtly men are judged because of their social status and perceived earning capacity, particularly as they age.

The irony of donning the "high-visibility" fluoro clothing most garbos wear is you actually become invisible to much of female population; women look through you, you cease to exist because you've fallen below some threshold of desirability or respectability.

Women might deny this and cite relationships with penniless artists, musicians or students as proof money doesn't matter but these are careers draped in creative romance or future prosperity.

There's nothing romantic about rolling a 240 litre wheelie bin onto a compactor's cradle and watching maggot-filled chickens, old shoes, and reeking green nappies splatter into a hopper.

There is, however, a balletic fluidity to men working a street, rolling three bins simultaneously onto the lifter's teeth, the compactor's hydraulics (which bother y'all so much at dawn) a reassuring sound the sanitation that civilisation depends on, endures.

I won't pretend to know what it's like to be a garbo for months or years and work two or three jobs to make ends meet like so many 'resource recovery operators' do.

However, having talked to enough garbos, they confirmed my suspicion our enshrined self-congratulation for being an egalitarian society is just horseshit spouted by politicians and beer ads.

Enter the average hipster cafe dressed as a garbo and you'll encounter a palpable atmosphere of disdain, leavened with pity you've been unable to rise to something better.

As one young garbo told me: "I get the full looks up and down from girls walking to the beach in my boardies, but once the hi-vis goes on, they don't wanna know you."

Another garbo loader described how proprietors grimace when he and his runner sit down for breakfast while their truck and driver journeys to the transfer station to disgorge, in part, that very cafe's refuse.

I've had the same conversation with taxi and bus drivers, tradies and street sweepers - healthy, active men whose treatment by strangers changes when they're in "uniform" and in civvies.

The most striking difference, however, is the flirting they can conjure with women when off-duty, disappears once their status is revealed by their "hi-vis" work clothes.

I'm sure this status discrimination is experienced too by women who do 'menial' work but, considering the number of manual occupations deemed "beneath" most women, the "glass cellar" of dangerous, low-wage jobs is still populated largely by blokes.

My suggestion to women who want to "make the political personal" is to flirt ferociously with garbos and, perhaps, ask one on a date.

I guarantee if things go well, there won't be any awkward conversations the next morning; the bloke will have been up at 3am and back on the bins.

You can follow Sam on Twitter here. His email address is here.

Please don't take it personally if I do not reply to your email as they come in thick and fast depending on the topic. Please know, I appreciate you taking the time to write and comment and would offer mummy hugs to all.