This morning it is ten degrees out. I am on a very narrow road with no pass options and I am behind a one armed trash truck. (It has one driver and a mechanical lifting arm on the side.) Now I imagine that the person who gets this truck has drawn the short straw, because the truck is tall and just open at the top, and so you do not even have the CHOICE to just grab a bag and toss it in the back. Things have to be lifted by the one arm. And the one arm does not take turns driving, or ask you if you want to stop at the next Stardonuts to get a hot coffee, or ask you how your mom is feeling or how your son is doing in his spelling bee. A mechanical arm is no company at all.
So here it is freezing cold and the driver has an unzipped jacket and no gloves. At least the jacket is a nice winter jacket. He steps down out of the truck. I feel better when I notice that he has a warm knit cap down over his ears. I have time to think about him as I watch him, not able to pass him yet. We both wait for the mechanical arm, then we both advance.
The next trash bin had spilled over or been knocked over by a snowplow. There is a mess. Up goes one bucket via the mechanical arm and it dumps and then it moseys on back down. The bare hands of the driver have grabbed plastic bags of trash out of the snow and he reloads the bucket and the mechanical arm creak-creak-creaks it up a 2nd time and dumps, and creak-creak-creaks it down. And there are still miscellaneous small loose objects that remain in the snow and I can tell the driver is annoyed and his face is set grimly and he is also aware he is holding up traffic and yet... He reaches bare hands into the snow and picks five or six “smalls" up, and he cannot toss them up; no, mechanical arm needs to be engaged in its forty-five second routine.
Finally the driver stands the empty can in the snow, and bolts into the drivers seat to continue.
At his next stop he waves me past but I put my car in park and get out because I am going to give him a piece of my mind, yessiree. Cars pass us as I walk toward him. He sees me coming. I said something like "About that mess back there," and this man starts to apologize that he had “appeared annoyed” but the bucket had been tipped over and I said "no no no I wanted to THANK YOU because it is SO COLD today and I was AMAZED how carefully you cleaned that up- I appreciate your taking care of our world that way- and so thank you!" ... and then I slugged him on the arm for good measure, as I believe it to be a sign of sincerity. A soft little fist bump to his upper arm with my pink mitten, served with a smile.
Well, he said I made his day. So that made mine. And when I got home I looked up “Leck Trash Removal” and I pressed "call" and I told the nice lady that answered the "residential" extension what a great guy they had on board. I told her he initially thought I was going to complain to him. "People complain all the time, especially about the mechanical arm truck," she sighed. She said I made her day too, and she was going to tell every one, and she guessed it was "Rudy" and her description matched, so it must have been Rudy.
Now peeps. That was so much fun. It was so easy and simple and there is no better feeling in the world than letting someone else know that they made a difference and you noticed.
Keep your eyes open for a Rudy of your own and have some fun. And please always keep your heart open for the solitary peeps that are stuck with the mechanical arm truck.
In general, an open heart is what I recommend whenever we are faced with any version of hardship and solitude. Being kind is powerful. It is like reaching for happiness and having it rest right on your shoulders. I hope you have felt it.
A different road in a different state, but the temperature was 10 degrees.