You’ve got a friend in me: Meet Simon and Ben

Driver Simon Abela talks about his friendship with 30-year-old truck fan Ben that has earned thousands of likes and comments on Facebook

Our People

May 29, 2020


A wave and a smile makes such a difference to our day. Make sure you say hello - us garbo’s really appreciate it.

Tags: Drivers

A wave and a smile makes such a difference to our day. Make sure you say hello - us garbo’s really appreciate it.

Ben Gangemi is a 30-year-old resident in The Hills Shire who lives with disability. Lyn Gangemi wrote about Ben’s heart-warming friendship with Cleanaway Driver Simon Abela in a Facebook post that has since attracted thousands of positive messages from the community.

Simon and Ben of Cleanaway

Branch Manager Isaac Mascord caught up with Simon to learn more about his mate Ben, how the friendship developed and why he looks forward to his job every day.

Isaac: Tell us about your friendship with Ben and how you first met him. What sparked the friendship?

Simon: It was about 4 years ago when I first started with Cleanaway. It was just an ordinary day. I was emptying garbage bins in the Hills and Ben was waiting out the front of his house behind the gate.

I pulled up because I saw him waving and thought I’d stretch my legs for 5 minutes and say hello to him and his mum. Ever since that day, Ben will be waiting for me every Tuesday at 11am for a chat. If he has something on and cannot make it, he makes sure to tell me so I can reschedule my collection time. I do my best to accommodate.

kids letter to Simon

Isaac: What do you love about Ben’s personality?

Simon: Everything! It’s the big smile on his face. As soon as you pull up he is so friendly and nice. He’s just a really nice guy and is so happy.

Isaac: What’s your message to Ben and to all garbo truck fans out there?

Simon: A wave and a smile makes such a difference to our day. Make sure you say hello – us garbo’s really appreciate it.

Isaac: Do you think it makes a difference to the people that you wave to?

Simon: Every little bit helps. The parents love it, the kids love it and makes for a good day and better relations with the community. There are a few people like Ben that I take the extra time for each week and pull up and say hello, toot the horn and wave.

kids letter to Simon

Isaac: The Facebook post that Ben’s mum put up has had over 20,000 likes and 1,200 comments. What did you think when you saw it?

Simon: I was speechless! I never thought something so simple like that would get so much attention. I love my job, I love working for Cleanaway and the relationships I have with community.
I love handing out those cardboard trucks to the kids. Their whole face lights up and you can see that the parents really appreciate you taking the time. It makes such a difference.

Isaac: What makes working at Cleanaway so enjoyable?

Simon: The working environment. We have a great working team and it helps that management is approachable. I couldn’t be happier where I am.

Isaac: Simon, you’re doing an absolutely fantastic job. You’ve certainly made a name for yourself amongst the community and I couldn’t be prouder of how you represent the business. You embody the Cleanaway value “We make a difference” by taking pride in what you do. On behalf of Cleanaway and the Sydney municipal team we really appreciate and thank you for your ongoing efforts.

Share stories, pictures and videos of your favourite garbo hero on your Facebook or Instagram page, tag @cleanawayau and #NotAllHeroesWearCapes and we’ll feature your story on our channels.

To read more heart warming driver stories visit our driver appreciation hub here.

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