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From trashman to author, Terrill Haigler shows us how to make lemonade out of lemons

Jul 21, 2022 02:00PM ● By Karen Warrington

Terrill Haigler, aka Ya Fav Trashman COURTESY TERRILL HAIGLER

Being a sanitation worker or a trashman or woman is a hard, dirty and smelly job. And, the workers get little respect from the public. While we fully understand that the removal of our trash is important, we don’t necessarily regard the people who do the work as important.

Terrill Haigler envisioned a career in the arts. He was a graduate of the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts and had studied dance at the famed Freedom Theater. But somewhere along the line he decided that the arts would not financially sustain him so he applied for a job in city government. Two years later, he was hired as a trashman in the midst of the Covid pandemic. Seemingly, Haigler was being redirected from the arts to picking up trash possibly filled with lemons.

As Covid spread, so did the mounds of litter and trash accumulating in neighborhoods. For more than a year during the pandemic, Haigler was an anonymous Black man who picked up what we threw away. And, he and his fellow co-workers were required to work without adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as they rode through block after block in smelly trash trucks trying to keep our city clean.

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But amazingly, Haigler not only embraced his back-breaking job, he also provided residents with more information about his trash pickup schedules and utilized social media to better inform the public about what it’s like to be a sanitation worker.

Calling himself Ya Fav Trashman on Instagram, his efforts were celebrated and caught the attention of local and major media. He was interviewed on both Good Morning America and ABC World News Tonight.

Right about now it’s important to remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry.”

So, Haigler took a whole bunch of lemons and made giant pitchers of lemonade.
He hasn’t stopped his journey. He has now published a children’s book to help young people develop appreciation for recycling, the effects of littering and the workers who haul our trash away.

Haigler’s book is entitled, ”I’m Cool Too,” and he says he is using the proceeds to raise money for Philadelphia public schools. His goal is to sell 200,000 copies in order to donate $1 million to the school district.

Not only is Haigler the Fav Trashman, hopefully he will be our Fav Author and make lots of lemonade.

FunTimes readers can pre-order the book at and follow @_YaFavTrashman on Instagram.

 Karen Warrington has had a decades long career as a broadcast journalist, communications professional, performing artist, and documentary filmmaker. She has traveled extensively throughout Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia. She is committed to being a voice for the African Diaspora. 

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