The days after Christmas are usually a time when people relax on the ski slopes or in front of the television set, but not for Provo's sanitation workers.

Dale Stephenson, manager of the city's sanitation and street division, said one of the busiest times of the year is the first couple weeks after Christmas.Getting rid of Christmas wrappings, trees and cardboard boxes competes with spring and fall cleanup and the arrival and departure of college students in Provo, he said.

"Christmas impacts us heavily," he said. "We put out an extra truck or two and we do haul Christmas trees."

And while most people are not excited to work overtime during the holidays, Stephenson said the employees don't mind because customers are particularly appreciative during the holidays.

"Even though this is a heavy time, employees receive thanks for the job they do. That is not something they normally experience year-round."

Juan Ruiz, a solid waste truck driver, agreed. "Most people are pretty nice around Christmas time. They get a little bit of the Christmas spirit and smile or say hello to you. It makes our job easier and better."

Ruiz has worked with the Provo Sanitation Department for seven years and said he doesn't mind working the extra time during the heavy Christmas season.

"I guess it's a little bit of dedication I have to my job," he said. "I try to do a good job and I really enjoy it."

One thing is certain, however. Ruiz said he is glad the city went to an automated system. He had been dumping garbage by hand for six years.

"It was really a pain because some people just set their garbage out there and expect a little too much. We end up doing it for them because we like to give good service, but it does kind of get irritating."

Perhaps the best after-Christmas present residents can give Ruiz and his co-workers is to cut up their tree so it fits in the can.

"If it is big, there is no way we can get out and chuck it inside the hopper," he said. "The hopper is 8 feet up. We are glad to take trees in smaller portions."