Joe Wilkins is a man who lives on the edge of society. He works alone, keeping the streets of Surrey free from a hidden menace. Ever-alert, always down-wind, John is the silent mercenary who empties the dog-shit bins.
Joe 'Dog' Wilkins cuts a striking figure. Gaunt-faced and tightly muscled, his tanned features hint at a life on the road. He rolls a cigarette that takes on the brown hue of his fingers, he suppresses a gag reflex as he puts it to his lips. "It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it", growls Joe. "I've been a mercenary in this business for as long as I can remember. My contacts still call me an 'agency worker', but I don't have time for their petty rules."
Not many men can 'take the strains' that Joe faces. "I've known some good men who have cracked under this job. Hard men: men that you wouldn't dare hold your nose at", Joe says. "You have to watch every step, especially in the verges. You've got to stay on your feet, or you could end up with a mess on your hands."
His cold, slightly watering eyes spot a lone bin across the park: a smile cracks his face, the sun unglints off the flecks on his teeth. "Time for action", Joe growls. Wordlessly, he mounts his specially-modified transportation: a golf-cart Joe calls 'The General'. "Me and the General go way back". Joe's eyes twinkle. "She used to be called the 'The General Waste Department', but err, some of the letters washed off." Joe shifts uncomfortably, not used to such scrutiny. "We've done a lot of jobs together, been through a lot of shit."
The job can be dangerous, there are traps and horrors that Joe can barely bring himself to describe. "There are some sick puppies out there. Only this morning, I spotted a tell-tale pink bag, swinging from the trees, just feet away from the proper disposal point. I wasn't having that. I shinned up that mother, had to wrestle the bag down with my teeth. That bag was going down, I'm just glad it missed any passers-by".
But Joe's worst horror is an improvised excretive device: the Tesco's carrier bag. "Sure, they look like any other bag. But those bad-boys are perforated. I mean, it's just inhuman. What one of those can do to a man, if he casually swings it into the back of the General...it makes me sick just thinking of it."
Joe is a very private man, and lives alone. "Maybe its the pressures of the job, the things I've seen. Maybe its my '1000 Yard smell'. But I don't think I could ask a woman to share my life, I bring too much of my work home with me."
Despite the tough nature of Joe's unsung travails, he remains philosophical: "It could be worse", opines Joe. "I could be a Lib Dem MP."