Joseph Caggiano gets up at 4 a.m. every morning, giving him enough time to make the 5:30 a.m. roll call at work.
This has been Caggiano’s routine for more than half a century. He’s 75 years old and has been working for the Department of Sanitation since 1966, making him its longest-serving employee.
"I like doing what I do," Caggiano said.
Caggiano started his sanitation career collecting trash in Midtown, and then landed a desk job at headquarters preparing the artwork for graphics and maps.
He transferred to Staten Island 30 years ago to be closer to home, a shift that put him back on the streets.
These days Caggiano is behind the wheel of this truck that picks up large metal containers of recyclables.
But over the years he's done the heavy lifting too, handling household collections and bulk pick up of items like sofas and mattresses.
His secret to staying in shape: Keep moving.
"It keeps you alive, cause when you retire, what happens? You start getting up later and later, start eating all the wrong foods and before you know it, your health is down the drain," Caggiano said.
Caggiano has his route memorized. After all, he had a hand in designing it.
"When I first came on here, the routes had to be changed. A lot of stuff was on the wrong days," recalled Caggiano. "We turned it all around, checked it out, made sure it worked and made some more adjustments until we fine tuned it."
Caggiano’s long career with the department is a family tradition.
His father spent 37 years with Sanitation – mostly working out of the same garage that is Caggiano’s based today.
And Caggiano son, Joseph Jr. followed in their footsteps – putting in 20 years before he passed away suddenly.
Caggiano admits he never expected to be at it this long.
"I said to my father, 'Dad I don't even know if I want to take the job. ' He said, 'Why? It is a good job.' I said, 'Twenty years is like a life sentence.' And he said to me, 'Joe time goes fast, before you know it it will be over with.' And I said, 'Well I am not staying a day over 20 years.' And he said, 'Well I heard that before.' I guess he was right," Caggiano said.
But despite the allure of a hefty pension Caggiano has no plans to retire just yet.
His alarm clock will continue to ring at 4 a.m., to get him to the job he has held for 52 years and counting.