When’s the Garbage Man Gonna Come?

Sidney DiVincent - New Orleans, Louisiana
Entered on November 11, 2006

Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: gratitude

I believe in respecting and thanking the garbage man. Garbage men do the dirtiest jobs of them all. They do something that nobody wants to do, but it must be done to maintain society.

After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, it took a while before the garbage men could get back to their jobs. There was a whole lot of commotion and complaint about why garbage wasn’t picked up more promptly. I had the same sort of attitude, in a way. I’ve lived in New Orleans all of my life, and it was horrible as well as frustrating to see the city I grew up in and loved being frowned upon by the whole nation who, at the time, only saw New Orleans as the biggest landfill in the country. The trash pile in front of my house alone was 15 feet long and seven feet tall. Everyone asked the same question, “When’s the garbage man gonna come?”

The garbage man finally did come to my house. Outside of my house was everything imaginable: the refrigerator, sheetrock, furniture, kitchen cabinets, etc. The garbage men came equipped with bobcats and numerous dump trucks to complete their task. Anyone would have thought that the garbage men finally coming through for the city was a good thing and we’d be in high spirits as they removed the trash. However, it was just another horrible sight as they loaded our once prized possessions into the back of the dump truck. My whole family was forced to finally let go of everything we were ever attached to. From family pictures that told the stories of our lives to furniture that had been passed down from generation to generation. This was the last time we would see any of it. It almost seemed as if the tables had turned and the garbage man was the bad guy rather than the hero of the day.

My mother and I stood there and began to watch the garbage men do their job, as we had been waiting for them to do. While watching, we waited for that final feeling of satisfaction that there was no more trash to worry about. That satisfaction didn’t come. As the man in the bobcat crumpled a piece of warped and molded furniture, my mother broke down crying. It was her great grandmother’s antique vanity that had been passed down to her. The garbage man caught a glimpse of my mother’s breakdown. He immediately shut down the bobcat, dismounted it, and walked over to my mother to console her.

After my mother calmed down, the man walked her over to the bobcat. The next thing I knew, I saw my mother actually driving the bobcat. She then began to pick up our trash herself and dump it into the nearby dump truck. Her tears of sadness and pain turned to tears of joy in a matter of minutes as this made her day. I hadn’t seen my mother this happy in months. I guess the garbage man saved the day after all. I walked over to the garbage man and thanked him for what he had done.

It’s one year later and the city is looking better than expected. The garbage men still have a lot of work ahead of them, but New Orleans is steadily coming along.

Now, whenever a garbage truck blocks my path in the street, I happily wait for them to complete their job. Once they are finished, I roll down my window, wave to them and say, “Thanks a lot guys!”