I've been working as a council garbage man pouring your household rubbish into the back of a compactor truck at 5am.
Aside from the pleasure of working with guys who have absolutely no pretensions, the experience reminded me how often calls for gender equality assume all men are equally placed to ''repress'' women.
I've frequently heard and read women of a certain age, weight or attractiveness claim they're sexually ''invisible'' to men because females are unfairly judged on their appearance and youth. What we rarely hear debated is how subtly men are judged because of their social status and perceived earning capacity, particularly as they age.
The irony of donning the ''high-visibility'' fluoro clothing most garbos wear is that you become invisible to much of the female population. Women look through you. You cease to exist because you've fallen below some threshold of desirability or respectability.
Women might deny this, citing relationships with penniless artists, musicians or students as proof they don't care about money. But these are careers draped in creative romance or future prosperity. There's nothing romantic about rolling a 240-litre wheelie bin onto a compactor's cradle and watching maggot-filled chickens, old shoes and reeking nappies splatter into a hopper.
There is, however, a balletic fluidity to men working a street, rolling three bins simultaneously onto the lifter's teeth. Reassuringly, the sound of the compactor's hydraulics, which bothers you all so much at dawn but on which sanitary civilisation depends, endures.
I won't pretend to know what it's like to be a garbo for months or years and work two or three jobs to make ends meet as many ''resource recovery operators'' do. However, having talked with enough garbos, they confirm my suspicion that our self-congratulation for being an egalitarian society is just horse shit spouted by politicians and beer ads.
Enter the average hipster cafe dressed as a garbo and you'll encounter a palpable atmosphere of disdain. As one young garbo told me: ''I get the full looks up and down from girls walking to the beach in my boardies, but once the high-vis goes on, they don't wanna know you.''
Another loader described how proprietors grimace when he and his runner sit down for breakfast while their truck and driver journey to the transfer station to disgorge, in part, that very cafe's refuse.
I've had the same conversation with taxi and bus drivers, tradies and street sweepers - healthy, active men whose treatment by strangers changes, depending on whether they're in ''uniform'' or in civvies. I'm sure this status discrimination is experienced too by women who do ''menial'' work but, considering the number of manual occupations deemed ''beneath'' most women, the ''glass cellar'' of dangerous, low-wage jobs is still populated largely by blokes.
My suggestion to feminists who want to make the political personal is to flirt ferociously with garbos and ask one on a date. I guarantee if things go well, there won't be any awkward conversations the next morning; he will have been up at 3am and back on the bins for hours.