Monte Davis gathered in front of a crowd of workers, amid trucks, trailers and cleaning supplies at the Oklahoma State Fair.
It was 9:30 a.m. Sunday and time for the group's daily pep talk.
Davis, an operations manager for Waste Connections, reminded the workers not to engage with guests who are rude to them — often those who've had too much to drink. He complimented the work the temporary staff had done Saturday, the third day of the fair.
“We all know the third day's a butt kick.”
And then he left them with some encouraging words.
“Go out there and do it like we do.”
What they do is clean. About 173 temporary workers per day are tasked with clearing the fairgrounds of all types of waste. Davis estimated Waste Connections hauled 35 tons of trash from the grounds Saturday alone.
Scrubbing bathrooms, cleaning away animal waste and picking up trash from 525 blue barrels placed on the sprawling fairgrounds are among his workers' duties. It's not a glamorous gig.
Jackee Petit, building supervisor for Waste Connections who oversees 30 staff members tasked with keeping bathrooms clean, knows that much. She makes a point to greet staffers warmly.
“Hey sugar, thank you for coming,” she tells one worker, doling out a hug. “Ya'll have a great day, OK?”
They set off for their posts at 10 a.m., when guests are trickling in but the line for a giant cinnamon bun already is long.
Davis heads out in a golf cart outfitted with Oklahoma City Thunder flags. Despite the temporary job title, there is loyalty among workers to the state fair, he said. Some with full-time jobs use their vacation to work at the fair. One woman drives a scooter from NW 29 and N Classen Boulevard get to her post at a fairground bathroom every day.
A main goal is to keep the bathrooms clean, including the portable toilets. Those can only be pumped once a day, at midnight, but a cart rigged with a spray system helps spruce them up throughout the day.
“It really matters to me, people walking away saying ‘This is the cleanest fair I've ever seen,'” Davis said.
Tiffany Sams is new to the cleaning crew.
“I'm liking it,” she said. “I wish I could enjoy it (the fair) but I'd rather have the money.”
Sunday, she was tasked with cleaning the area around the petting zoo and mobile home displays. She said she's paid about $7.25 an hour.
“I listen to music and I interact with people — that's what really gets me through the day,” Sams said.
Tony Alexander has come back for a fifth time this year. The work is straightforward, the lifelong Oklahoma City resident said, driving a golf cart behind animal barns and the occasional steer or sheep. Alexander stops to deliver supplies and keys to other workers in the area. Then he checks the bathroom in Barn 4.
The people he works with make the job worthwhile.
“For 11 days we're like a family,” Davis said.