Valentine's Day Trash(man) Talk

by Gay Spencer 14. February 2012 18:44
Valentine's Trash Man

Happy Valentine's Day. Earlier today I was thinking about the sweetest Valentine's Day expressions I've known, and I thought about the sweet trash man in Columbus, Ohio. It seemed just a bit much to expect that I could dash out the door to roam around the city and find a photogenic trash truck to illustrate the story. Oh well. Life is complicated enough. The cosmos would allow me to just ignore Valentine's Day, right? So I thought.

Then, when I did go out for an errand, right there in front of me was this absolutely cosmically photogetnic trash truck!

The story of the sweet trash man on Valentine's Day was meant to be told.

When I was finishing my Ph.D. in Columbus, Ohio, I was always stretched too thin and struggling more than a bit. I got way too little sleep. It was just me and my grade-school son, and keeping up with all the little things seemed impossible. The Columbus trash day setup didn't help. The day your trash got picked up would change when a holiday showed up, and I was always forgetting to get the big dumpster thing out to the curb on trash day.

So it was on February 14th when I was awakened by the distant sound of the trash truck coming down my street. It was not the first week that I had missed the trash pick-up, so it absolutely had to be picked up.

I leapt up in disarray (probably having had less than 4 hours of sleep), grabbed a coat, thrust my feet in some sneakers, punched the garage door opener, and hit the driveway running, pushing the big green thing toward the curb. The big trash truck with its gawky mechanical arm that reached out to pick up and upend the dumpster was lumbering closer, then in front of my house.

After having lived in Philadephia for a number of years, I know that if it had been one of those famously rude Philly bus drivers, that driver would have hit the gas and sped right by. But no, the driver slowed and stopped, before I even got to the curb.

I stepped back a few yards, and the mechanical arm did its clanky work.

After all that, I smiled and waved at the driver, mouthing, "Thank You!"

He smiled back, and was probably laughing at me, since it was obvious that I had just thrown my coat over my pj's and was only half awake.

When the machinery quieted, though, the driver rolled down his window, leaned out so I could clearly see him, smiled a really beautiful smile, and shouted out, "Happy Valentine's Day Ma'am!"

How sweet was that? Maybe he suspected that any woman who has to run her trash to the curb in her pj's on Valentine's is probably needing some sweet good wishes.

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