‘I’m proud of being Latino’: Longtime San Francisco Recology worker inspires community mural

Hispanic Heritage Month

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – His life started in Mexico, and it grew right here in San Francisco.

We’re spotlighting a Recology trash truck driver – Cenobio Oropeza – and his more than half-a-century of service.

His hard work has afforded him and his family a home and happiness.

Fifty-four years on the job later, not much has changed for Cenobio Oropeza.

“I love to work.”

He’s still up, clocking in at Recology, when most of us are fast asleep, and ends his shifts when we’re starting our day.

“Somebody has to do the job.”

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Cenobio just went by “trash truck driver,” emptying large containers in San Francisco’s Richmond District and neighborhoods around Golden Gate Park.

But now, he’s an essential worker, whose journey started in the 1960s when he immigrated from Mexico to the city.

“It’s very important, because I don’t want to forget where I came from.”

His family won’t let him forget how much he means to them.

“The work ethic that he’s shown us has driven me to even find a strength in painting, strength in my own work,” his son Christo Oropeza said.

One of Christo’s finest works of art is a digital mural he produced, now showcased on Valencia Street in the Mission District.

It’s a tribute to his father, Cenobio, and all essential workers.

“My dad’s number one in my book, and you know, I’m proud of him, and really just blessed that at 73, he’s still going strong.”

Christo says this mural encapuslates his father, and the men and women he works with on a daily basis – the smile and great personality, and carrying the can on his back – that blue-collar mentality.

“That drive and that ethic, you can’t teach that. You know, it is just intuitive, and it gave me a feeling of, like I need to pay homage to the OGs, and not just my father, but his father before him, who retired from the garbage company as well,” Christo said.

“I’m proud of being Latino. I’m proud to have my family, and I’m proud to be a part of Recology,” Cenobio said.

It’s sacrifice and dedication materialized in a mural, symbolizing how one man’s pride can lift a community.

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