At the Denver Regional Landfill site, Richard operates a bulldozer, a compactor and a scraper in a mountain of stinky rubbish.
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A sleepy suburb of Denver,
nestling securely in the comforting shadows of the Rockies.
The people there are going about their daily lives, raising families,
enjoying the natural beauty of their surroundings in Colorado.
And each making their own small
but equally significant contribution...
I've driven just about every high-powered vehicle there is.
But that was just for fun.
The world's biggest, baddest vehicles are made to work.
So now I've decided to travel across the United States
to see if I can conquer the monsters of the worksite.
I'll have just three days to learn how to handle
these complex and dangerous machines
that normally take years of training to master.
And in the end, we'll find out if I'm good enough to get the job done.
This is the Denver Regional Landfill.
This place can handle, process
and dispose of 4,000 tons of refuse a day.
A task that big requires some specialist tools,
not just one machine.
Bulldozer, compactor and scraper.
I've got three days to learn how to handle all three.
And at the end, to pass my final exam,
use them to handle and dispose of a mound of trash equivalent
to what I would've produced in my life so far - about 26 tons.
I thought I was tidy.
It turns out my mum was right.
So Brian, I'm here, ready to get my hands on the vehicles. I can't wait.
But before I do that,
I've got to know how the place works.
So you're in charge. What goes on here?
everything that everybody puts out on their curbs
and thinks it just disappears, it actually comes here.
We manage it and dispose of it in an environmentally safe
and friendly manner.
Once the trash comes in here they're going to dump,
we'll have the bulldozer pushing it into place.
The packer will then be running over it.
And then we're going to cover it with the scraper.
They each have a specific role and have to work together
for this whole place to function.
-It looks almost a choreographed routine.
Stuff comes in, it's spread out, it's compacted and covered.
At the end of the day, it's a nice, fresh hill again.
Our dance of chaos.
It might be when I get in there.
It actually is chaos briefly. But I will try.
I will try and fit in with your team, I promise.
Now, since I have only three days to master three giant machines,
I best get started.
First up, the mighty bulldozer.
The bulldozer here is primarily what we use to push the trash
once it comes off the trucks.
So in essence, what we've got is tracks here, engine.
-It's a big one.
-It's a huge one.
-About 325 horsepower.
-and a whole lot of torque.
-That's what I'm guessing.
Then you can't really help but see this,
-this is her blade?
-Yes, this is the blade.
-It's a standard flat blade used to push the trash every day.
These teeth in the bottom are called cutting edges.
What ends up happening right here,
this bottom edge here, is what is engaging the ground.
So that wears quicker than anything on the dozer.
And when the cutting edge gets worn down too far,
-it starts cutting into the blade.
These are a couple of hundred dollars,
but this blade is thousands of dollars.
So these are like a disposable razor?
-So let's make it begin.
-Make it begin.
-Let's do it.
Fire it up. Maybe it's the proportions of a bulldozer.
It's just kind of... It's just a lump of muscle, isn't it?
OK. Chris, carry on.
Is there an official term you say to begin the demonstration of fine art?
-No, I think carry on...
-Bulldozer is just fine.
OK. So now here comes the dozer.
Let's just move out of the way of that as well. Many things to...
What you can see is just the pure power of that.
It's not even feeling that, it's not even aware.
And again, he's shifting tons and tons of stuff around
but with finesse. He's finessing that blade off the floor.
He doesn't want to dig down too deep,
he doesn't want to expose that trash down below,
so he's just skimming it right off
and placing it in the hole right where he wants it.
But he's actually making the earth move as he does it. It's vibrating.
Yeah, you can feel it. We're standing on trash.
We're standing on 30 years' worth of trash right here.
-Brian, I've just got one other question as we stand here.
Which is, when are you going to let me have a go driving that thing?
-Yeah, I am ready. I'm ready, let's do it.
I notice where you've brought me.
There's... You haven't got a lot of faith in me, have you?
-Because it's empty here.
-I wouldn't say it's not a lot of faith.
I'd say this is where we take the rookies to learn.
-You ready to go?
-Yeah, I'm ready.
-Let's do it.
I'm feeling scared.
I'll be honest, has it grown?
This is your key to start it up.
Oh, yeah. I got it. I got it.
It's notable, the absence of a steering wheel.
-That's all done with this?
This is your blade.
Forward is down, back is up.
Left or right, it'll tilt the blade.
Right, in the contours and...
You know, being a good operator is about feeling it in the seat.
It's about time in the seat.
You really start to feel the grade when you're sitting in the seat.
-Turn that key.
There's a lot of things happen.
Oh, is that bad?
Nope, you're all right. Turn her over.
-Move it forward.
It's really sensitive.
OK, now, now, hit the throttle button. Hit the rabbit.
How fast are you going?
Three point five, it feels like a million.
Take this and just crank it over.
Go all the way.
You're still in gear, so you'll roll until you put it in neutral.
There you go.
There's only two speeds for this engine, idle and....
-All or nothing.
-Unless you feather that.
Yeah. That's cool.
You want to go by yourself?
-OK. Good luck.
You are in the trash, mister.
Yeah, want it!
You really are carving
and shaping with this thing and modelling with it.
I'm not aware of it, it isn't struggling.
It's like it's not trying. It hasn't noticed, I swear.
So what do you think?
It could just create hell but has no... It doesn't know.
It's easy to create hell but it's harder to create perfection.
Why don't you come on down?
I'll show you what this thing can really do.
No matter, rain, shine, snow, whatever it is,
-we're pushing trash, baby.
-This is our life right here.
Let's push trash in the rain. It's just more fun.
OK. What are we doing here?
Right now, we're going to find out what this bulldozer can do
in the hands of an expert.
Inevitably, when somebody first gets in, they're heavy on the blade.
We are going to use it to tip over this trailer
that you see in front of you.
OK. That's assuming it doesn't get washed away in the meantime, right.
Well, if we're ready to do this, Chris, carry on.
What he's going to do, is he's going to take his blade
and he's going to position it right on the frame there.
He's going to just run and lift up his blades slightly.
So, this is about positioning?
-And then precision use of the blade?
Oh, yeah, he's knocked it...
So, he's put it on its side.
Oh, wow! 'That was simply amazing.'
Chris was able to take the 42-ton bulldozer
and use its blade like a spatula, gently flipping over the trailer
-like it was an egg in a frying pan.
-There you have it, Richard.
So the game here is to roll it over without destroying it too much.
-That is the finesse...
-..of the brawn right there.
So, you take the massive 40-ton bulldozer and carefully
roll the mobile home over, causing little damage as possible?
That gives you an idea of just how easily it is to take all that power
and turn it into the finesse.
OK. So this is a test?
-This is a test. Are you ready?
We got another one for you.
OK. I'm confident.
-Yeah, I can see that.
-I am, I am.
All right, Richard. You saw how the expert did it.
-Now, it's time for you to flip your trailer.
-This is mine?
-Are you ready?
Yeah, just before I do it, I want...you know,
-a quick look of what I'm going to do it to.
-She's a beaut.
You know, I've rented worse.
It's a fixer-upper.
Lick of paint, pictures on the walls,
put that chair the right way up.
When I finish flipping this, you could live in it.
Just pop it back on its wheels and move in.
Excellent. Let's see what you got.
Can you hear me in there, Richard?
Sadly no, so I'm just going to go crazy.
Hold on. I've got to adjust the seat up here. Who's been driving this?
-Quit stalling, come on.
-All right, starting.
Uh, I don't like it when it does that.
Fire it up.
-One thing we want to watch, Richard, is the frame.
If it gets caught in those tracks, it can easily whip right back up
and catch you in the cab.
Right, thanks. You tell me that now. Good, OK.
So this is also dangerous as well as humiliating.
Good. Thank you.
The frame might jump up there and get you.
I just suddenly don't feel so confident.
-OK, I'm going now. Here we go, this is it. I'm going.
Come on, Richard, let's go.
Lift it, lift it.
Keep going forward. Good.
Just watch this frame on your left side here.
-Chris, we better back up, huh?
I don't know how this rookie's going to do at this.
I'm using finesse.
I think I got it. I think I got it.
-Yeah, it's going to go over.
-He's not square to it.
Come this way.
Why is it not working like it did when Chris did it?
Because we're the experts, buddy.
He needs to come back and grab it under more.
A little bit of a shove. That's all it needed.
Whoo! There you go. Oh, man. Rookie?
I think in essence I've got it. It's just the timing, isn't it? Watch.
Uh-oh. It's toast now.
Man, he destroyed it.
I kind of thought I had it briefly.
It's about finding the tipping point, isn't it?
-Tipping it with your hand and then you feel it go.
I love the feel of that. I love the machine. I've got all...
-It's a powerhouse, huh?
-Yeah, and it's just an obedient bull.
It just does what you want it to do.
Assuming you know what... I want one. I need one. How much are they?
That's like three Lamborghinis each. Isn't it?
-That's pretty close.
It would be nice.
It's a great machine. I love it to bits.
I really enjoyed that.
On the whole, this is such a great idea.
I get to spend time with unique, specialised working vehicles,
learn to operate them and really discover what they can do.
It's great. I love it.
But there's always a downside for every upside.
And in this particular case,
it's scraping the trash out of the tracks of the bulldozer.
That's right. You've had a lot of fun on this equipment,
now it's time to put it in the work.
So this is kind of basic daily maintenance.
You got to do this cos this stuff will get caught up in there.
Absolutely. What we're really worried about
is this final drive back here.
This is what drives the whole tracks and all the machine.
And if there's any wire or anything that gets caught back there,
it's going to destroy this final drive,
so we're working to make sure we clear all that out.
You wouldn't think that such a big beast could be affected
by bits of trash, would you? But it can.
Little pieces of wire is all it takes.
-You just jab that in there.
-I am jabbing!
All right, Richard,
-I'll be coming back in about an hour or so to check on you.
Yeah, that's about what it'll take for a rookie.
-Have fun, all right?
-Oh, yeah, yeah.
If this were a cookery show, this is the bit
in which I'd, you know, pop it in the oven and come back
ten seconds later and it was done.
I'll try it. No, it's not done.
You might want to go and make a coffee or something.
This is going to get nasty. It's really unpleasant.
I cleaned my hands.
I really cleaned my hands before I ate.
What's the most ridiculous thing that's ever happened here?
The most ridiculous thing that's ever happened out here?
Tom's got a story to tell.
Remember the... Longmont Hospitals sent people out here?
They had lost a biopsy.
They had a biopsy and they accidentally put it in a wrong bag.
Went out the trash and they come out here looking for it.
"How big is this biopsy?"
"Oh, about the size of a small pork roast."
Argh. That's a...
"How big was the guy you took it out of?!"
They couldn't find it. They had to go get another one.
Who was sent out to look for it?
Some people from the hospital.
-It's a job for the rookie.
And one of the most special loads that we've gotten,
there is a marijuana crop that was grown up in the mountains.
-Oh, I remember that.
Yeah, I'm sorry they took away your cash crop for your retirement.
The FBI went and busted it.
They couldn't burn all of it though, because it was such a windy day.
So they had escorts coming in and they had to have a special
burial process where we dug a hole for them
and they sat and watched as it was dumped in.
So now the joke is that you go and you stand by one of those gas wells
that are going down through that area, the landfill.
You just sit there by the gas well and get your contact high
from the special load that came in.
-We can go and do that later, if you want.
End of day one and I think everybody has pretty much agreed
that I have learnt to handle the big bulldozer with laser accuracy.
All that remains to do today now,
is spend the next hour or four in a really hot shower.
It's all... Yeah, now that's not coming out.
Day two for me here at the Denver Regional Landfill.
I've tasked myself with learning to handle all their heavy machinery
to do what they do.
Believe me, it's a lot more than just dumping stuff.
It has to be processed, environmental concerns to work to,
even aesthetic and visual ones.
They're building a hill.
And to do all that they use three key very specialised machines.
Bulldozer, compactor and scraper.
I've challenged myself to learn to operate all three
in just three days and in the end, I'll be tested
to see if I can cut it here as part of the team.
Yesterday, I learned how to drive the bulldozer.
Today, they're moving upscale. It's time for the big dog.
I'm going to learn to drive the compactor.
It's huge. I've got to drive it.
So this is the trash compactor, Richard.
This looks... What's its job?
Trash comes in loose, got a lot of air in it.
We're here to pack it down, rip it up and make it one tight surface.
OK. So, what features does it have that it allows it to do that?
-The big monster teeth right there.
-I'd noticed those.
-And the weight.
-Yes. How much does it weigh?
-That's a lot.
Many tons. Probably about 60 or so.
That's a lot of unit there.
This tip is really the business end of the compactor.
You got to think of all this weight, 123,000 pounds,
being focused on this little surface area.
-You don't want to get your foot under there.
-I don't mind.
-You don't mind?
-It's steel toe caps. I have to wear them.
Look, I'm not feeling this. See?
-OK. Let me go fire it up.
-No, I'm fine.
I mean, these are critical. This is what it's about. Isn't it?
When this puts its tippy-toes down, all the weight goes through that.
It's a difference between doing that with a nail and that with your hand.
-That doesn't hurt, that does.
-That's what its job is.
It roams about the place, crushing stuff down.
Concrete, you name it, couches, whatever.
-It runs it right over and crushes it up.
Can I have a go?
Come on, I'm going to do all three. That's the point.
OK. Let's go for a ride.
Thank you very much. I thought you'd never offer.
-What's the matter?
-Chris, did you leave this unlocked?
Somebody's nicked the steering wheel, it's stolen, gone. Look.
Yeah, we're going back to the joysticks.
-So I'll put this down.
Chair of power. Oh, I like that. That's like a throne.
-You're in this thing for 12 hours a day.
-Your feet go here?
-It's a foot rest.
-I feel like I'm giving birth.
-Let's start? OK.
-Left and right.
-Left and right.
-That's all you got.
Over there in your right hand, the up and down of the joystick's the blade.
That lever sticking up is forward and reverse.
I was expecting to... Right now in here!
Two hands, and put your shoulder into it.
-So, can I move?
-Yeah, have at it.
-Here I go.
I engage forwards, with the pitiful little lever.
I'm moving away. Oh, oh, you see, that just feels strange.
-Yeah, that is...
So will this trip it up?
-Oh, it's clawing its way hand over hand.
Exactly, exactly. Pick it up to third gear, Richard.
Let see what this thing's got.
We're in third.
Yeah, yeah. Let's go now.
This is actually the least comfortable
of all the machines I've operated.
When you're in the trash, it's a lot better
because you've got a softer surface they're mashing over.
Right, here I go.
Nearly there, front wheels are about to go on. Front wheels are on.
You're in the trash, mister.
Yeah, I'm on it. Here we go now. I'm compacting.
Give it a shove.
Compacting trash, yeah, I'm on it. I'm compacting.
-It does feel softer. It's more comfortable.
-I'll be honest, it doesn't smell fresher.
But it's more comfortable.
There are cab filters, so nothing bad is getting in here.
Yeah. Oh, now she's working.
There he goes, right it on the face.
Put your blade down a little bit.
So, you really are carving and shaping with this thing.
You're modelling with it.
Yup, and once you get to the toe, you got to lift it up a little bit,
so you smear it on the slope and then drag it across the top.
Well, now the angles are getting quite alarming but...
-That's a long ways down there.
-Yes. Isn't it?
Oh, oh, oh, that's nasty.
We call that the pucker effect.
Yeah, isn't it? Isn't it? Oh, God.
Several tons of trash is gone.
So, this is the slope that you made me turn around on?
-I'll be honest, I was a bit nervous
because, well, I mean, I've ran various off-road vehicles at home.
-This is... What grading slope is this?
-This is a 41 slope.
That's pretty steep and I would approach this with some trepidation,
especially when you're turning round at this point
when you cross the slope and it feels like you're going over.
But in that 60 tons of vehicle,
never felt like it was going to go over.
It's about the low centre of gravity
and the teeth grabbing a hold of the hill, is what it's about.
All the weight low down and those teeth, it really does feel like
-a cat on a curtain. It's not letting go.
-It's absolutely fixed.
Driving this thing, straight away I got a sense of its power, its might.
It's a specialist in crushing stuff
and I just wish I could find a way of showing you that visually.
I'd have to find something so awful,
something big but so terrible, we'd be glad to see it crushed.
Something that deserves to be destroyed
under the compactor's mighty wheels.
I think you can see where this is going.
This is serious work we're doing.
We're demonstrating the power of potency,
of a specialised working vehicle,
and I think it deserves thinking about.
Yeah, we're not messing about here. This is science.
-Have at it. There it goes.
Oh, it's pushing.
No, no. We're all right.
Chasing it. Come here, you little critter. Try that on.
Turn your wheel over there. There you go.
So it's just the engine block that's causing it to stand.
This isn't sophisticated that we're doing now.
No, this is all about power right now.
-Oh, look at that.
-Look at that.
-Like a surgeon, a surgeon did it.
There she goes. That is...
I don't think that'll punch out, will it?
You know what? One more, let's back up and give it one more time.
-Put it in neutral.
-Rev it up.
And just run this thing back and forth, dig into that thing.
-Oh, I see what you're doing.
-Kind of rubbing it in.
-Oh, yeah. Here's the engine block.
-That's the engine block?
Yeah, yeah. There's the last of it.
Yeah, that's good now.
Yeah, I think we finished that.
-I think it's gone.
-I'd say that's... We've done it.
There you go. That's pretty impressive.
Good old American minivan.
Oh, look at your handiwork, Richard.
Look at that. It's like an art installation.
It's landfill art that, we made it.
That's about the coolest thing I've ever seen.
It's one fewer. I like to look at it as a start.
I think in the interest of communicating to you
the power and potency of that machine, I think we all did...
That was time well spent.
It was five minutes. We had some time.
We had the minivan, we had a 60-ton compactor,
you'd have done the same.
Well, you brought me to a small tank and a big tank, what's going on?
This is our condensate holding tank.
Basically, what happens
is we have a methane extraction system set up on the well.
The gas gets condensed in these tubes.
Because of gravity flow, it all runs down the hill
and gets deposited inside this tank.
-This is the gas that's produced by all the trash in there?
-30 years' worth?
-And it condenses?
Because of the temperature difference.
It turns back to a liquid
and it runs down the tubes into that tank?
-So that's trash juice?
-Yeah. That's a good way, yeah, trash juice.
-Just thought of that.
-That's trash juice. I like that.
-Let's go around the back.
-I'm not going to get in there or anything?
-No, we're not getting in.
-You don't pull a glass off?
-No, no, no.
Is it nice for gin?
So, what I got over here, Richard, this is my stick
-I use to check the level inside the condensate tank.
All this high tech stuff going on.
It all comes down to a stick that I made.
-I see. It works?
I'm guessing it smells good.
-I can get you a whiff of it real quick.
-No, I'm fine.
-Come on now.
-Come on now.
Oh, that's fresh! It's nice. Yeah!
Yeah, that's one for after lunch.
Oh, it's a smell you can feel.
We just stick this in here. Pull it back out.
Right there is the water level. Right below my hand.
-Below your hand is better than on your hand, I'm guessing.
So that's the stuff that's condensed out?
Yes. That's the liquid.
Ultimately, that's going to be used to power turbines
to generate electricity so that that becomes an energy mine.
-Let's go somewhere fresher.
It's day three. I'm getting ever closer to my final exam
where I'll be responsible for processing over 26 tons of trash.
I set myself the challenge of learning how to operate
the three key specialised machines they use
here at the Denver Regional Landfill Site
in a kind of choreographed heavy machinery ballet.
For my final exam,
I'll have to prove I'm able to dance in that ballet
by processing over 26 tons of trash all by myself.
So far, I've mastered two, the bulldozer and the compactor.
Now, I must learn how to use probably the most complicated
and mind-bending piece of machinery here, the scraper.
So this is the scraper.
Justin, one thing I've noticed straightaway,
-it's big, isn't it big?
It's always slightly further away than you think it is.
It's further to go... I must be there now.
No, it's getting bigger, it's getting bigger.
I'd like to point something out. I know in my odd little life,
it's always going to be a good day when you set out to drive something
with wheels taller than you are.
Now we got that ratio going on there.
-What's it for?
-It just moves dirt. That really is all it is.
Here at the landfill, we use it to cover the trash.
So if ever there was a single-purpose machine,
-all of this, this, this?
But on a really big scale. How does it do it? Talk me through it.
This is one of the twin engines scrapers.
-We got one in the front, one in the back, obviously.
-Don't say obviously, man. Obviously.
I got two engines on my scraper.
They're about 500 horse apiece.
-I like that.
You got your cutting edge.
You just pop that into the dirt.
As you're driving along, it just scoops it up.
This is called your apron
-and that holds it all in the bowl.
-That collects all the dirt in there?
Right around 30 cubic yards.
If it's heaved all the way up to the top of the trash rack there,
it's about 35 yards.
Right. And then back... One thing. I wouldn't want to replace a tyre.
No. You don't want to.
They're, I think, about 14,000 a piece.
All right, but they last years, surely.
I mean you're not going to damage it, are you?
-We puncture a tyre weekly.
-One of these a week?
-Oh! I'd hate to be given a wheel bracer there, the little jack.
Something tells me, I don't know why...
-This isn't easy to drive, is it?
-It is really dangerous.
-How long have you been driving it?
-Used to it?
How long did it take?
-It took a couple of years doing it every single day.
You can figure out how to make it do what you want.
There's roughly 40 tons' worth of dirt in the bowl
and the machine itself, when you load it, is 200,000 pounds.
When you have it all the way up in the air,
that's a really high centre of gravity
and going round corners or if you're working on the side of the slope,
it's real easy to turn it over.
It can be pretty dangerous, but to me now,
it's just like driving your car.
So, in essence, what we got here, is it weighs 100 tons fully loaded
and it might well flip over and roll on top of me.
-Yeah, that's right.
-Yeah. Are you ready to learn?
No. Yes, yes, I am.
I'm ready to concentrate really hard.
Here's a suggestion, Justin.
Why don't you drive it first and show me how it works?
-Right this way.
-Oh, it sounds powerful, it is big.
-Yeah, it's a beast.
-It's a beast.
-You see both engines are working in the backpack there?
-So, he's now scraping?
-Yup, he's in.
-Ever had incidents in one of them?
-I've actually got it airborne
and I end up getting hurt pretty bad on it.
-Not really built for jumping is it?
-No, not at all.
-And it looks quite manoeuvrable.
-It is. It's just like the dozer was.
It's very sensitive when I'm moving that steering wheel around.
-Oh, it's full.
-It is full.
-He's just filled it.
Justin, try not to grin so much.
People will think you're enjoying your work.
He's going to dump it right here for us.
-So that is 100 tons of vehicle, isn't it?
-So now he's...
-He's dumping it out. See the apron in the front
-pushing the dirt out?
So of all the machines you've got here,
with the dozer and all the rest, is this a favourite one to operate?
-That's my favourite.
I imagine, when you open the door,
do you surf out on a sea of testosterone?
-Oh, yeah. You're just pumped.
That's 60 cubic yards of soil that he was able to move
-right exactly where we wanted it.
-It took him minutes.
Yeah. Quick and dirty.
How long does it take to master that?
To be able to load it and then lay ribbons like that with the soil,
it takes years of practice.
See, I got more sort of...hours.
The nice part about it, is you've got first gear, second gear and drive.
In first gear, you're only getting up to a few miles an hour.
It's got a steering wheel that you're going to be used to.
There's something familiar in there?
Other than that, the way it steers, the way it moves,
the fact that it's got two engines and two throttle pedals.
-Remember I said yesterday, wait till tomorrow?
-Now I know why! Wish me luck, guys.
I'm quite nervous.
I am quite nervous.
No, I don't mind sharing it, because it's just big.
-Yeah, it is. You'll get used to it. We have two motors.
Three pedals, one controls the brakes where your foot's at now,
then that's the rear engine and the next one over is your front engine.
This is the joystick control.
You see, the joystick itself moves four different ways.
The forward and backward is your bull control.
Your side to side is your ejector.
The first button, transmission hold button.
You see there's a pivot here,
that is your apron control.
-This is a weird machine, isn't it?
-It really isn't that bad.
No, no. It's just everything you've said ends with,
-"..or it'll roll."
Sometimes, it feels like you're in a big worm or something.
-Right. Can I have a go?
So it's turning the whole of the U that I'm in.
That is weird. Aah.
That's was weird is when you turn the wheel...
it turns you. That's really weird.
-Why don't you try to hit the throttle on the rear engine too?
-There you go.
Whoa. Whoa. That's a lot of power.
It feels huge and squirmy
and slightly alive.
This feels enormous, unlike anything else.
It's like a giant worm.
-'How are you feeling, Richard?'
-It feels unlike anything else.
Because of the size of it, you imagine it's going to be rigid
and solid but it's so flexible. It moves and bucks.
So now I'm going to get into position to do a run, yeah?
10-4. Let's do it.
Oh, this is it.
It's like firing a missile. It's a big moment.
Well, fire away then.
Oh, I can see it working! I can actually see it.
This thing is really a mighty machine.
Oh, yeah. I'm digging chunks out of the earth.
It's a juggling act between closing that apron
to keep in you what you've got, digging the blade in to get more.
Careful of not lifting the can too high
cos the centre of gravity comes up and that's dangerous.
-I'm putting dirt down.
-'That's good. Now, start pulling the ejector.'
Which was the ejector?
Pull the joystick sideways
'towards the steering wheel. There you go. That's it.'
-Yeah, I'm making a road!
So what's next in my training?
All right, Richard. It's time to up the ante.
Justin operated one of these in Iraq
and he set up a nice little obstacle course for you to demonstrate
what he had to go through on a daily basis.
-Are you ready for the challenge?
-Is there a choice?
-No. No choice.
-Yeah, I'm ready.
-I'm ready. I'm ready. I'm ready.
-All right. Let's do it.
Well, I'm pretty good and I have mastered the basics of the scraper.
At least, I hope I have, because it's time now for a little test.
Because of the worm-like way the scraper moves,
it can be difficult to keep in a straight line which is necessary
to quickly and effectively cover trash at this busy landfill.
They've laid out a track for me.
My job is to stay within that track.
If I stray from it, I'll lose points.
But they're a bit cleverer than that here.
There's an extra incentive to stay on the track.
Bear with me, this is quite subtle.
As an extra incentive to stay on that track,
they've lined it
I'm going to really try.
So, my last two overseas, I was in Route Clearance.
In Route Clearance, we look for landmines on the side of the road.
So on this course, you're going to go straight down the road,
pick up a load, come back and dump it.
But we marked all our landmines with red tape, so avoid those.
If you hit one, you'll get a taste of what we did overseas.
-Yeah, right. OK.
Now, let's get out of the blast zone before you get started.
Oh, thank you. Thank you. Oh, God.
Going into gear.
OK. We are going.
Give me some power now.
Move in carefully.
All right. Come on. Bring it on.
Remain inside. That's what really matters.
No. I'm not made for this kind of pressure.
Yes. Get a load.
Just give her a little bit of throttle
and take it on down the hill.
Yeah, I'm cutting. I am cutting. Yeah!
There you go. Now you can ease your cutting engine just a little bit more.
That looks good.
-'Can you put it down some more?'
-Whoa! Another bomb!
Well, there was another one.
I'm not sure how much dirt I've actually picked up here.
It looks like you're started losing your load there.
Where do I turn round?
Go about 50 yards out and flip around to your left.
We're just going to take a few steps back, Richard,
just in case you decide to hit any more landmines.
Yeah. Sorry about that.
Accuracy, not my strong point yet, but I made it.
Right, where do I spread?
All right. I want you to drop that load right up at the top here.
OK. Here I come.
It's hard to keep the thing straight.
That is the difficult thing about it.
All right. OK, right about there
'and just ease the apron open
'and start pulling the ejector.
'That's a lot more dirt than last time.'
Great job, Richard. That was a pretty good load.
How do you feel with that landmine?
I'm not used to this whole landmine thing.
OK. You can turn right and come on back over here to us
and we'll see how you did.
It's a big old thing to try and be accurate with, isn't it?
It is. Yup.
And every steering input, you... Aah, boom.
Aah, oh, no, no, I'm over there, there's a bang over there.
I'm just thinking that of everything I've ever operated,
that's one of them that's right up there for,
you could imagine how you could only get better with time.
You'll eventually get so good that once you set that can,
you're looking forward where you're going
and you're riding that can all by your feel.
-You become one with the beast.
All landfill sites, wherever they are in the country,
even here at least 1,000 miles from any ocean
have a particular problem, courtesy of Mother Nature.
And it is...seagulls.
And to cope with that problem, they need a very, very
And here it is.
Well, not you, Joe, specifically, but I mean you with the falcon.
And this is the machine you brought us out. What's he or she called?
This is Bebe and she is a female Saker Falcon.
Now, it's a bird, clearly. I've worked that out.
She's not really big and seagulls are enormous.
I mean, she's... They're not going to be scared of her.
-They'll laugh at her!
-She can go 230 miles an hour.
So that gives her the advantage, you know.
She's going that fast, she can really put the hurt
on another bird, even if it's a little larger.
Does she eat them?
She will eat a seagull.
I mean, she prefers farm-raised quail or pigeon.
-She prefers farm-raised quail?
But she'll slum it and eat a seagull if she wants a change.
OK. This site and sites like it are all about getting rid of trash
-Burying it, protecting it.
Seagulls come in and eat it.
Well, let 'em have it.
Well, the problem is, it's a pollution issue
because when they eat all that garbage,
at night they have to roost on a water source.
They're feeding all day on garbage.
They're going to be defecating all night in our drinking water.
Now you've explained it like that, Joe, it makes perfect sense.
It is about control. Enough talk, she looks like she's ready to go?
-You want her to fly?
-Is she revved up?
-Yeah, she's ready.
-Let's do this thing.
-Are you guys ready to see her rip it up?
Yeah, yeah. Do your thing. I have no idea what's...
Do we stay here?
OK, nobody in the crew make like a seagull right now.
She'll be on you in seconds.
Oh, look, she's back!
Well, thank you very much for introducing me to Bebe.
And I'm just going to move over here now.
You keep a hand on her.
I'm small and probably could be lifted.
See, Bebe, I'm not a seagull.
I'm going over here, don't run. Just walk.
Well, it's time for my final exam.
I set myself the goal of learning to operate all three
of the key machines here at the Denver Regional Landfill -
the dozer, the compactor and the scraper.
And I think I've kind of got it mastered.
At least I really hope I have because for this exam,
I'm going to have to use all three machines
to correctly handle and dispose of this
pile of trash equivalent to what I would've produced in my life so far.
26 tons of it.
But I've only got 15 minutes to get this lot levelled out,
compacted down to the correct density, covered in dirt
and blended seamlessly into the contours of this hill.
And I'm confident...
All right. Richard, we've given you 15 minutes on the clock.
Your job is to move all this trash into that hole.
Are you ready?
I'm making sure I remember how to use the bulldozer.
It's been a couple of days. I got it. Yeah. I do.
All right. On your marks...
Yeah. Let's go in. Right. Now, we're pushing trash.
This is the first part of the process,
smearing it down into the right place.
Perfect. Now, come back and take another swipe at it.
-That's one minute.
-'This is critical.'
Where I put this trash now will define ultimately
what I've got to level out with the compactor and with the scraper.
Hey, Richard. You better get that thing in third gear, buddy.
-You're already about 3.5 minutes in.
This isn't ACTUALLY the trash I've produced in my life
because it'd be like my dreams, hopes, my dignity.
That'd be in there. I threw that away years ago.
Good. Good blade control there.
I'm now scraping this up.
This is what it's all about.
This precision, getting this last little layer
off the floor.
'Here comes five minutes.'
So let's have that on,
I've only got 15 and there's three of these machines to get through.
That still looks like an enormous pile of stuff to me.
Let's see what the compactor does to it next.
That's got to break it down flat.
Not as flat as I'd hoped it would be at this stage but hey,
it's kind of there.
joystick steering, blade, gears.
Yeah, we're out of here.
Two jobs to be done by the compactor here.
One, the actual compacting.
Two, using the blade here to just
push the trash where it will eventually be compacted
by the weight of this thing and its wheels.
Down the slope, now this is where it's going to feel alarming
but it's not going to fall over, apparently.
Compactor capable of some pretty alarming angles of course,
thanks to its huge weight and low centre of gravity,
and these incredible wheels.
That was eight minutes.
'You're eight minutes in, Richard, hurry.'
If I've done my job right, this will just blend in.
Be another part of the hill.
Come back up and get ready to cover it.
Excuse me running away but...
Oh, that thing's enormous.
All right. Let's get this trash covered.
There you go. Can is up.
Parking brake off.
All right, here we go.
First job, get this thing up and over there and get a load off.
Here I come. There we go.
Now we're loading. It's going in.
The knack now is I've got to use the apron to stop it falling out.
Oh, God. I hope I've got enough on board
because that's all I have with me now to do the job.
We're about 12 minutes in, Richard. Keep going. Keep going.
Keep going. Start dropping out that apron.
Open, good. And push with the ejector.
Oh, look at that.
Oh, look at that. There it goes.
Covering it in dirt, that's my job.
I daren't look. I daren't look back.
We're at 13 minutes, Richard.
Come on. One more pass.
When they said this thing can go at 30 miles an hour, I'm like "Why?"
"Why does it need to?" Now I know. They're under pressure.
I need a full load this time. I really do.
'You better hurry up.'
'14-and-a-half minutes, Richard, come on. Spread that load.
'Here we go. Coming up to the ten-second countdown.
BOTH: Ten, nine, eight, seven...
-Good try, Richard.
-You were close.
OK. Let's check it out. Can I just say, I'm still buzzing a bit.
Yeah? Feel good. Feel manly?
No, not really because I disgraced myself a bit.
-You missed a whole spot over here.
-Yeah, I did. I did.
-Well, there's a spot over there too.
-There are some spots down there.
-Couple of spots over there.
Give me marks out of ten. Come on, for that effort?
Can we go negative or does it have to stay positive?
Oh, come on! Yeah, give me marks. Give me marks out of ten.
-You're like a two.
You see how it's still floppy back in there?
We need to make sure that all this trash gets covered with dirt.
-It's been pushed, but not packed.
I'm going to sum it up like this.
Those three machines, incredibly specialised.
-They each have a very specific job.
-And learning how to use them to do the job...
..that's a whole different thing and that's what I've learned.
I can now operate... I know what everything does, I can move them about, use the features.
I understand it. I can't do it, but I've got it.
I agree. You get the passing marks for that.
I mean, you'll give me a job though, right?
What time do we open? Four in the morning?
Four in the morning.
Maybe the week after.
-All right, sounds good.
Three days, three machines.
I think I gave myself enough time there to learn, well, the basics -
how to drive them around.
And to get an appreciation of just how focused
and specialised each of those tools really is.
And for that reason, I really enjoyed my time with them.
I think to learn how to do anything other than
make a mess with them, takes time.
To learn how do what these guys do, shape a hillside with them,
and I'll be leaving this place with a better appreciation
of the fact that what I'm watching there is
guys making something difficult look easy.
And trust me, it is difficult.
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