I was coming back into the neighborhood this morning in my pickup, a rented tiller in the bed, Good Friday, which in my white collar world means a well-deserved day off. Well, a day off from my occupation, not necessarily from "work". I had a to-do list as long as my arm, but I was feeling happy. I'd slept in until almost seven, had breakfast tacos with Terri before we went our separate directions to take care of our individual chores.
I'm driving down the street adjacent to mine and I see the garbage truck coming toward me from the other end of the block. It pulls up to a house and the driver jumps out of the truck and runs over to one of those mobile cans, pulls it out to the truck, hooks it up and dumps it hydraulically, puts it back, jumps into the cab and drives to the next house and repeats the process.
"Holy cow," I'm thinking. "That poor bastard is wearing himself out. No help. Just him."
I pulled my truck up and rolled down my window. The young Hispanic guy came over to see what I wanted. "Man, you have to do all that by yourself? Get out every time and run around and dump the can?"
He sounded almost apologetic. "Yes, it's just me. I can't get all those bags of leaves, but I'm getting the trash. I'm writing down the houses with leaves so we can get them later." He had a myriad of scars through his buzz cut hair, like he'd been through a windshield, or a lot of fights. But he had an amazing aura.
"That's a lot of work," I said, as if maybe he didn't already know that.
He smiled. "Yes, but thanks be to God I have a job."
It hit me like a punch. I smiled and drove on. What do I know about hard work? This guy is so happy to be working that what he's doing is his yoga. He feels like he could do more if he only had some help. He feels bad about leaving those bags of leaves. I'm humbled.
I make penance by tilling and planting the garden. I am determined to enjoy the fact that I am alive and working, thankful to that garbage man for putting things into perspective for me.