I watched them from behind the blinds in my upstairs bedroom as they gathered up the neighbor's garbage cans in the twilight. Usually here by eight or nine AM at the latest, today they had been held up by frozen streets and mounds of leftover slushy snow. They came down the street working together, one dumping while the other was gathering, tossing the empty cans expertly from one to another as they finished. They worked with an easy camaraderie that spoke of much time spent together as a team. I was impressed by the garbage men.
This was not the first time I had been impressed. Several years ago I had a neighbor who passed away leaving no family. His landlord set all of his things out at the curb. All week people drove by and pawed through his belongings carelessly as if they were hunting a bargain at a yard sale. (I had forgotten how angry that made me!) By the end of the week everything was gone except a full sized sleeper sofa, box spring, a full sized mattress, a club chair and a desk chair.
Standing by the sink I heard the trash truck and parted the curtain to get a glimpse. My mouth literally fell open as I watched four garbage men lift the sleeper sofa and feed it into the mouth of the garbage truck. I was riveted. The garbage truck literally "ate" the sofa. I watched in amazement as it disappeared "bite by bite" and then continued to watch as they fed the monster mouth of the truck the mattress, club chair, box spring and threw in the desk chair for dessert.
I am thankful for my garbage men. I live in a small town so we only see them once a week, but I don't complain. They will take just about anything, including a lawn full of bags of old ceiling tiles, tons of empty paint cans, broken wood and paneling, old nasty carpet, if it's cut and rolled up, and all sorts of broken and discarded junk.
I have to admit on an occasion or two I might have asked too much. One of those times was when I set out two full trashcans full of wet soggy Sheetrock. I probably shouldn't have. They must have weighed 100 pounds each. And they smelled. Really. bad. They took them, but one of the Rubbermaid cans came back completely bent in half. I got the message.
My sister and I have shared stories about our local trash men. She is not renovating a house but is a single parent with two children of her own, two foster children and a full time job. She doesn't always have time to drag the cans from the side of her house down to the street on a winter morning (5 below sometimes!) with four kids in the van waiting for her to take them to school. Occasionally, on those mornings the trash men will actually leave their truck, walk all the way up to her house and bring the cans down to empty, and then set them back in the yard.
Of course I know there are some who are not so lucky. I heard about an elderly gentlemen who had one bag of trash that wasn't in a can (in a city not far from mine). The garbage men wouldn't take the bag even though he was running along behind the truck it in his slippers and robe, yelling WAIT! They drove off leaving him literally "holding the bag". Seems like the kind thing to do would to have just stopped and let him throw it in the back. Something. ANYTHING. Just don't make old men chase you down and then leave them in your dust.
Not so for us. We are blessed and I am grateful.
So here is my shoutout to the trash man. No reno would be the same without the weekly or semiweekly round of men to take away the debris left in the wake of creativity and hard work in the quest for a beautiful house and a beautiful life.