One ability Jimmie Chatman has is dependability. The head custodian for the City of Thomson has been taking care of city buildings and grounds for the past 27 years.
"I come to work every day. I never called in and said I'm not coming," Mr. Chatman said in an interview. "Everybody I've worked for, there was no doubt about it, they knew Jimmie's going to be at work."
Now that he's retiring, that dependability will be remembered.
"We're really going to miss Jimmie. He was always on the job, always ready to work, always helping others, always concerned about the job. He really takes pride in what he does," said Peter Ruddick, the City of Thomson Public Works Director. "I'm personally going to miss him, because I like Jimmie. He'll be retired, but not forgotten."
And the feeling is mutual.
"I'm going to miss my coworkers more than the job," Mr. Chatman said. "I like everybody, the whole city. They're the ones that kept me motivated to keep going."
When he was young, Mr. Chatman's family moved from Sparta, Ga. to Thomson to be close to his father's job at an auto parts store. Mr. Chatman graduated from Norris High School in 1964. He worked at Uniroyal until the plant closed and he took on a job with the City. Recently, Mr. Chatman jokingly said he has been mowing the same plot of grass in front of the Depot for 27 years. He also regularly worked alongside Audrey Eller, who plans and works the city's flower gardens and landscape. The digging, weeding and watering is one part of his job he's totally giving up. Although retirement will give him much-needed time to do yard work around his house, Mr. Chatman said his yard won't be in bloom.
"I'll do some yard work. I don't usually do yard work at home because I do it all day at work, and when I come home, I don't want to do more," he said. "But I don't want to plant any flowers because I see them all day, every day. I know what makes 'em grow --they take a lot of water."
Although he's 62, Mr. Chapman said he's still in good health and plans to enjoy his retirement. He plans to "go on vacations, take trips, go fishing, do a little work." He may even return to work part time or help fill-in at his "old job" when needed. Jessie Ivey has worked with Mr. Chapman for the past four years, and he'll continue the work. But he may have a new supervisor.
"I'm going to come back and point out where the weeds are," Mr. Chapman said with a laugh, looking at his co-worker. "I'll point and say 'there's one over there.' Especially on hot days like today."
A retirement luncheon was held for Mr. Chapman Tuesday in the Depot.