Tuesday, December 24, 2013

"Gift Exchange" With The Garbage Men

Hello! This time of year, it's common to be reminded about giving gifts to those whose services have been helpful all year - the hair sytlists, letter carriers, teachers, etc. To be honest, I don't recall my parents doing this; money was tight enough as it was and they had their hands full raising a big family. 

But later on, when I was a new homeowner in Stevens Point, WI, I happened to pay my next-door neighbor a visit while she was filling a gift bag full of treats to the letter carrier. She was my inspiration for doing the same for the helpful people in my life. 

I don't think I always left out treats to the garbage men, though I always felt a little sorry for them doing a rather smelly, thankless job. But then there was the December I was a homeowner in a new town again - this time, Terre Haute, IN. Between Christmas cookie baking and having attended a cookie exchange hosted by a woman's club, we were awash in sweets! So some of the extras went in a gift bag to the garbage men. 

This gesture had an unexpected benefit! Our garbage cans were housed in a cinder block enclosure. The enclosure was roomy enough for the previous owners to have left some junk of theirs next to the cans when they moved out. We never got around to having the junk disposed of, so there it sat all fall. 

Well, that gift bag must have inspired the garbage men, for not only did they take the goodies - but they also removed that extra junk! This surprised me, but not my husband. Back in his hometown of Chicago, when his mother had something extra that she wanted the garbage men to haul away, she'd leave a treat for them too - only it was usually a six-pack of beer. Worked every time!

So ever since then, I've made sure to leave a treat for the garbage men. It's trickier here, since their trucks come with an automated "arm" of sorts that lifts the garbage cans up and down for them. Thus, most of the time the garbage men don't have to get out of their trucks, except for when recyclables or other refuse have been left outside of the garbage cans.

Because of this automated feature, I worry that if I leave a gift bag on top of the garbage can, it'd just get dumped into the truck along with our garbage! But if I happen to be home at the time the garbage truck arrives, I make sure to have a gift bag ready to take out to them. 

I was home yesterday when the garbage truck came lumbering down our block, so I headed out to it with some goodies. You should have seen the driver's face light up when he saw me approach - that made me feel good! 

And spontaneously, he gave me his own gift: he handed over a package of the bags we use for recyclables. I got a kick out of that!

Goodies went out to the letter carrier as well, and we still need to give a tip to our newspaper delivery people. However, there's another group of people I've been meaning to thank, and that's our hard-working snow removal folks. Heck, in my town they even clear the main sidewalks off! For them, I'd have to drop off something to their headquarters, once I find out where it is.

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