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Women of Waste Pro – Arileyda Lahoz

Women of Waste Pro

Arileyda Lahoz
Curotto Truck Driver – Orlando, FL

“Never in my life did I think I’d drive a garbage truck.”

Arileyda Lahoz is no stranger to getting behind the wheel of a big piece of machinery. For seven years, she worked as a school bus driver in New Jersey.

“It’s totally different,” Lahoz said. “We still had to start early, but working with a garbage company is a lot more responsibility – even more than working with kids.”

The Dominican Republic native worked with another garbage hauler after moving to Florida. When she lost her job in 2009, she spent seven months looking for another job – and she was adamant it wouldn’t be another garbage company.

“But God had a plan for my life and now I look at this as something I want to do. God made me love this,” she said.

In the 12 years she’s been with Waste Pro’s Orlando Division, she has never called out sick. Monday through Friday, she drives to work – which in Orlando traffic can sometimes take two hours from her home in Kissimmee – and starts her day with a positive attitude.

“Waste Pro is my home,” she said.

That is especially true given the fact that she met her husband, Heriberto Comas Morales, at work. He works as a mechanic and, according to Division Manager Steve Painter, is the best one in the shop.

Navigating through the population explosion in Central Florida poses a challenge in itself, let alone driving the massive curotto truck Lahoz operates. In smaller areas, she said, it can be hard to get the truck through. But the key, she said, is being patient.

That patience has paid off – Lahoz was the first female driver in the Orlando division to earn the company’s $10,000 Safety Award, which is awarded to drivers who go three years without an at-fault safety event, in 2016. She just earned it again in 2021.

“It’s a lot to celebrate,” Painter said. “Earning two 10Ks back-to-back in Central Florida, with I-4 and the 408, that to me is a bigger accomplishment than most people would encounter because of course there’s traffic all over Florida, but Central Florida itself is absolutely insane.”

Arileyda Lahoz and her husband

Lahoz doesn’t let the stress of the job get to her. For her, she knows what’s expected of her each day, knows her routes, and knows she is going to do whatever she can to get it done each day so she can get home to her family.

“She does it by the book. She doesn’t rush, she’s very meticulous, always paying attention,” Painter said. “The cans are put back the same way that she picked them up and she doesn’t leave any messes on the ground. If she drops something she stops the truck and cleans it up.”

And if she can do it, she says, other women can too.

“When you see and feel what you’re doing is special, it’s different. These are special people,” she said. “You can do anything, you just have to have the mindset. Nothing is impossible.”

Painter added, “She outworks the men. She really does. She does a great job, never complains. I couldn’t ask for a better employee.”

When she’s not working, Lahoz loves shopping, jet skiing at the beach nearly every weekend, swimming, and decorating her house.

“I have a happy life,” she said. “I try to enjoy my life as much as I can. Tomorrow is not guaranteed so you have to do whatever you’ve got to do now.”