Sanitation drivers lift North Park woman’s spirit

Picking up trash and saving the day.

It’s all part of the job for City of San Diego sanitation drivers Nick Burks and Nathaniel Flores.

“We’re human, it’s human nature to do good things and good things happen to you,” said Burks.

And it was a simple gesture that brought a great deal of relief to Annie Jones Martin, resident of North Park.

Jones Martin was gassing up her car on typical Thursday morning in October when she inadvertently left her wallet on the roof of her car.

“As I’m driving up the freeway someone pulls up alongside me and honks and waves her wallet at me and I thought, what? And I look in my purse and no wallet,” said Jones Martin.

She was devastated. Just a few days from traveling to visit an ailing friend in Colorado, panic started to set in. The wallet contained her driver license, credits cards and $300 in cash. Along came Burks and Flores on their usual trash pick-up route at University Avenue and Boundary Street. They spotted the wallet in a busy intersection and stopped to pick it up.

“We made a decision to find the license, get the address and we noticed the address was on our route,” said Flores.

A few minutes later, they pulled up at the home in North Park.

“I just burst into tears, he comes in and hands me my wallet, all my friends are hugging him, my husband is hugging him, we’re all thrilled,” said Jones Martin.

Burks and Flores are assigned to what’s called the “greens route,” picking up yard waste around the city to be recycled into compost at the Miramar Landfill. Crews on the greens route work in two-person teams.

“We’re always out there, in the alleys and streets that nobody ever goes in,” said Burks.

Both men said they didn’t think twice about returning the wallet, and they hope to set an example for people to always do the right thing.

“I have to say, it restored my faith in human nature,” said Jones Martin.