By Melanie Yingst
TROY — When Robert “Bobby” Sims heard about an opening in the city of Troy’s street department 30 years ago, he made sure he was first in line to apply for the job.
“One of the guys I was working with said there was an opening and you had to be one of the first three people in line to get the job.” Sims said with a laugh. “So I spent Sunday night in the lobby so I’d be first in line.”
Sims said Ralph Avey was the foreman who hired him at the age of 25 after spending the night in the lobby in 1984.
“I don’t think they’ll let you do that now, but I did it. I was the first one at the door, ” said Sims laughing. “It was a blessing.”
Sims now is celebrating 30 years of service with the city of Troy this year.
Sims said he inherited the love of work from his father. Sims shared how he started working at the age of 8, shining shoes outside of a downtown Troy barber shop.
“My father told me ‘Hey, go work and do something,’” Sims said. “So I’d go out and I’d be shining shoes as guys left the barbershop. That’s where I first learned how to hustle was outside the barber shop.”
Sims still buffs and shines, but nowadays he can be found polishing and detailing cars in his spare time.
Sims said he has spent the majority of his three decades with the city street department. Sims also served as a meter reader for the water distribution department for several years.
Sims shared how one time during his water meter reading days he came across an elderly woman who was on the water shut off list.
Sims said he was reluctant to shut the elderly woman’s water off and shared her story with city officials. Sims said the late Joe Reardon found help for the woman. Sims said he was pleased someone stepped in to help the woman get back on her feet and avoid having her water shut off.
“Joe Reardon was a real good guy and always is being helpful and doing things for everybody,” Sims shared. “So we talked and Joe helped her out and what was a bad situation turned out to be good.”
When the city replaced the water meters with automatic readers, Sims returned to the street department.
“There’s been some good stories,” Sims said of his meter reading days. “When they put in those $2 million water meter readers I just went back to the street department, so I guess I’m worth $2 million though!”
Sims shared how he loves going to work each day with his crew members no matter what the project or weather conditions.
“It’s one big family,” Sims said of the camaraderie of the city workers. “I’m one of those guys who likes to talk to people and you get to meet some great people doing what we do.”
Sims, 55, said he has no plans to slow down and retire.
“I’m 55. I’ve got my health. I like the job I do,” Sims said. “I love spending time outdoors. It’s just beautiful being outside.”
Sims said he enjoys being active in his church Vandalia Tabernacle. He lives in Troy with his wife Windelen and has two children and three step-children.