Hi Ray, I haven’t seen you since high school. What have you been up to?”
“Hey, Richard, great to see you. I pick up garbage for the village.”
“Really? Alone?” I ask.
“No, there are three of us. Mike drives the dump truck. I hang on the back of the truck on curbside. Billy stands on the driver’s side. When the truck stops, we jump off, head to the curb, pick up the garbage cans, and empty the contents into the back of the truck.”
“Wow, those steel cans are heavy,” I reply. “You like your job?”
“Yeah, it’s great except for a few things. One time when I lifted a garbage can over my head, a maggot dropped onto my cheek between my eye and my glasses. Mike also wants to finish the route as quickly as possible, so he heads for the next stop before I’m back on the truck. Sometimes when Mike speeds up, garbage falls off the truck. I have to run back to get it. But, hey, it’s a steady job. I get to work outside. Mike and Billy are my friends. I can retire in 30 years.”
“Daddy, there’s one of those big, ugly, wooly caterpillars again,” my daughter laments. “I hate them!”
“Why’s that?” I ask.
“Grandpa says that when a caterpillar’s fur is thick, like this one, we’ll have a long cold winter. I don’t like winter. If I step on the caterpillar, maybe winter will be warmer?”
“Ha - it doesn’t work that way, Honey. You can’t change the future by killing a caterpillar. Don’t hate him. He’s just doing his job.”
My morning walk is interrupted by the screech of brakes and the groan of the yellow robotic arm as it emerges from beneath the monster truck. The oily, steel hand snatches the plastic garbage bin that sits at the curb. Whoosh, the arm returns and dumps the contents of the bin into the enclosed back of the truck. The robot returns the container to the curb. Lid open, the bin bounces to the ground and dislodges the remains of my neighbor’s dinner. I wave to the driver. He doesn’t see the pork chop on the street as he heads to the next stop.
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Richard Wilberg, MS, PLCC, ACC
Life Coach for Personal Fulfillment and Career Success
About the Author
I write personal essays, creative non-fiction, flash fiction, and self-development articles from my home in Madison, Wisconsin.