~ Tim's ~ Nameless ~ Blog ~

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Gettin' Carried Away

Is it because we've been having such a rough time of it that we are so ready to just celebrate for any silly reason? Or is it that New Orleans is a town that always has and always will celebrate the little things?

This is a true story, I swear it!

I can't put a date on it, but we've been doing this for several years, the wife and me. We've been nice to the garbage men.

It sounds like such a simple thing, and yet, the looks we sometimes get...

Anyway, more than a decade ago when we were still living in our first house, my wife and I got into the habit of giving cold drinks to the garbage men. I mean, it's just a simple act of kindness. An acknowledgment that these men who bust their asses lifting cans and bags of trash and run behind the trucks for who knows how many hours a day in the heat and humidity of New Orleans, that what they do is really really hard work. And I'm pretty sure none of them are getting rich doing this.

Let's just say it's a no-brainer.

We got into the habit that every time we see them coming down the street, we'd run and bring them cokes, water, whatever we had that was cold and packaged to go. I think they liked it. In fact I know they liked it, because one time a few years ago, we weren't outside when they passed, so they came and knocked on the door.

Later, my wife started to just put bottles of water out on the front porch two days a week.

Trash pick-up has not been so good of late. Sure, FEMA's got these contractors all over the city picking up refrigerators, scooping up construction debris, hauling off fallen limbs and trees. But ordinary household trash has gone untouched.

And I know my friends from out of town or of state are saying, “What? They’re still picking up storm debris more than two months later?” YES. Best estimates are that it will be TWO YEARS before we can haul it all away. So perhaps you’ll now understand the current interest is trash pick-up.

Finally, just yesterday, regular trash pick-up service was restarted city-wide. And my wife was home when the big, noisy trash truck came a-rumbling down the block. You would have thought she was a child hearing the ice cream truck the way she responded. Quick as she could, she grabbed a handful of water bottles for perhaps the hardest working, and perhaps for today at least, the most appreciated men in the city.

By the time she made it outside, the trash truck had already gone a few houses down the street. A couple cars were following, having no way to safely pass the truck and the garbage men darting back and forth. My wife ran up to the men, gave them the water and thanked them for their efforts. They thanked her back, of course.

And then, the unexpected happened. Those folks in their cars, witnesses to the gifts my wife gave the workers, rolled down their windows. You might have thought they were upset to be stuck behind a garbage truck. You might expect they would be angry with my wife for further delaying their slow progress. But no, not today.

They rolled down their windows and they cheered.

"Hooray!" they shouted, "Let's hear it for the garbage men! We really appreciate them!"

Is it because we've been having such a rough time of it that we are so ready to just celebrate for any silly reason? Or is it that New Orleans is a town that always has and always will celebrate the little things?

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