The Humbled Trash Man
He asked, “How do you do this?” And, I did not have to respond. My youngest son did all the talking for me. Bryce yelled, “Daddy…” from 50ft away. It was one of those beckons that’s really: ‘Where are you? I need you now!’
Of course my parental radar activated. I was at attention - and Bryce was simply confirming that his father was still in sight. Still available to him. I definitely was accessible. Yes, I was in his midst! I was completely covered with sweat and reeking of hot garbage.
I was in the trash shoot room. The “How do you do this?” question from my teenage neighbor was an innocently curious inquiry. He truly wanted to know why I am the Trash Man. He wanted to know what has changed in my life. He wanted to know why I was not in a fancy building with pretentious coworkers barely working in a small cubicle. Likewise, he wanted to know how I could stand in a room that’s insulated with a hideous odor, infested with soiled diapers, full of decaying food, tenacious horse flies, fleshy maggots, and unrelenting mosquitoes.
Yeah...that was the teenager’s real question. Thankfully, I did not respond verbally. I try my best not to intake the curry aromas of Indian garbage so talking is prohibited. The identical whiffs of road kill and all the other bags of pig slop for some reason triggers Earl. Vomiting can be a recurring Before Lunch experience if I breathe via nostrils. The smell is putrid!
With a quick glance up and over to the right - and with a finger point I answered the teen’s question. My paternal attention was on my brawny two year old and my index finger aiming was the polite indication to the teenager why my employment has uncharacteristically evolved and become one of many respectable
Unemployment has been remarkably kind to me. I have been humbled again. Nothing wrong with that…Humility needs recurrent characters.
If I don't detach the dumpster, pick-up after lackadaisical humans, and push the heavy dumpsters to the picturesque cul-de-sac the rubbish will not be dumped, and Bryce Emani and Judah Mordecai WILL NOT:
Hopefully, Ricardo (the teenager) has gained a valuable lesson from our brief encounter. He more than likely did…he is a GOOD kid who wants to work – and not sell
I have definitely learned from this edifying time of unemployment – and as I am relearning I have been reminded of a day when I worked for Marc Goodman, my Thomasville barber. One hot July morning, Marc asked me to go clean his barber shop parking lot. It was littered with Newport cigarette butts, a few Billy D. Williams promoted liquor bottles, and Sir Pizza to-go cups. With offensive disdain I rejected. I became insubordinate. Goodman calmly explained, “Brian, you have to reverence all jobs. Give them value. You work for me, remember? Now, help me maintain a clean and reputable shop for our customers.” Marc Goodman was one of many Teachers with lesson plans for young black men like me. He and other willing black role models like Richard Flippin mentored when mentoring was not defined.
Flip’s and Marc’s lessons are cemented in my unshakable belief: No man is above any job. If he believes that he is – he is duping himself and unlike numerous Mexicans missing out on an honest living.
No one is safe in the United States government’s instigated 9.2% unemployment rate. No one! Not even a country boy who earned an undergraduate degree from one of the best private universities in North America, acquired an advanced degree from the best HBCU ever formed, completed courses for a doctorate in Theology, and who has extraordinary –for a black man- work experience that expands from Eastern Europe to the Eastern Caribbean - and back to the collapsing Superpower that’s owned by China, governed by a Republican congress and led by a powerless black commander and chief who’s presidency has a striking resemblance to his predecessor’s administration:
Despite all the overpriced academic regurgitation e.g. letters behind my name. Despite my dubiously regretful humanitarian service and underappreciated sacrifice to America…
I Be Da Trash Man with impeccable honor and strengthen humility.