It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Good thing I’m self-motivated

The truck trundles up the street as I load the children into the stroller. As I snap the last buckle, it pulls up in front of our house, and the driver hops down. Nodding at the stroller, he comments,

“That’s a helluva job.”

It’s not an unusual reaction, so I’m able to reply with a grin. “It sure is, but I love it!”

“It would drive me crazy!”

I’ve had this exchange, or some variant of it, with dozens of people over the years. To date, though, they’ve been grinning right back at me. While they couldn’t imagine doing it themselves, they admire the work, and who can argue the cute factor? This guy? He’s not smiling. This isn’t a light-hearted conversational gambit. He’s dead serious.

“Different strokes, I guess. It suits me.” I shrug and grin again. Come on, guy, lighten up!

“My wife does that. There are SIX of them in my house right now.” His lip curls in revulsion. “Six. And today’s my day off!”

You know, I’m really not sure what to say to this. Not that he’s really listened to anything I’ve said so far anyway. So I don’t say anything at all.

“Today’s my day off, and I decided to take another shift, because, it would drive me crazy, be around that all day.” He shakes his head, annoyance writ clear on his face. “Helluva job. Helluva job.”

And with that, he picks up our garbage cans and empties their moldering contents into the filthy back of the reeking truck he drives.

June 15, 2011 - Posted by | eeewww, our adoring public, random and odd


  1. That is hysterical. To think that he’d rather deal with garbage…it blows the mind. I wonder how he’d react if you were the one to tell HIM that you couldn’t do his job, and you know, “be around that all day.” Sheesh.

    Yeah, we could have had the exact same conversation, with me in the “helluva job” role… if, that is, I were as insensitive and self-absorbed.

    Comment by Marci Baker | June 15, 2011 | Reply

  2. Sigh. That’s a much sadder commentary on the type of person he is than the type of work that you do. I was going to say something about how some people can’t handle young kids sometimes being messy and noisy… but the dude drives a garbage truck! Even when they’re trying their hardest, six young kids can’t be louder and messier all day than a garbage truck. (Part of the day, maybe. But all day?)

    I read your blog because you make it sound mostly delightful, and because it’s good to know that there are thoughtful daycare providers out there who sincerely care about their role in creating good kids. And ultimately, helping to create better adults. I don’t have kids yet, but reading what you have to say makes me think about things I’d want to do with my own kids when the time comes. It also helps me to develop a better picture of the person I’d want as a daycare provider, if I ever need one.

    Oh, I didn’t take it personally for a second. I doubt he intended it personally. He’s just self-absorbed, with no idea how it would sound to me… though I doubt that would have stopped him, had it crossed his mind. Normally, I feel kind of sorry for the garbage collectors — after all, it’s a pretty rotten job, summer and winter — but in this case, I was feeling sorry for his wife. I don’t think he’s a very nice man.

    Comment by klm | June 15, 2011 | Reply

  3. Yeah, he just sounds like a miserable person to have to be around. I feel bad for his wife.

    My thoughts exactly.

    Comment by Dani | June 15, 2011 | Reply

  4. Brilliant final sentence! I’d rather have your job than his, but I must say, our bin men are always cheerful and don’t seem to mind their smelly job at all.

    So are ours. This fellow’s the rare exception. In my old neighbourhood, the same fellow had done the route for so long, I knew him by name. On this route there’s not the same consistency, but I’ve never met such a grump before!

    Comment by Z | June 15, 2011 | Reply

  5. When I worked in Family Day Care the garbage collectors were the highlight of the week for some of my little companions. Ears would strain on garbage day until the first grumbles were heard a block or so away, and often we would head into the front yard so the truck could be seen in all it’s, ah, sweet smelling glory. The drivers never failed to say g’day and give the children a wave.

    When I left Family Day Care I took up a position of Administration Manager for a company which had many facets, one of which was waste management. Ah yes. I got to conduct performance reviews on garbage truck drivers. Without fail they mentioned young children who were fascinated by garbage trucks as a highlight of their work. (Young children being excited around their trucks were also one of their greatest safety hazards.) Anyway, when I interviewed prospective drivers their attitude to people was one of the deciding factors for employment. We considered our drivers our front line PR people. I don’t think Mr Grumpy Pants would have made it on to my short list somehow!

    For the purposes of hitting my punch line with sufficient impact, I didn’t explore that whole “little-kids-LOVE-garbage-trucks” tangent… but it’s so true! Every child I’ve ever cared for has looooooved garbage day, and with blue boxes, black boxes, green bins and ‘residual’, we see a lot of big-truck action! And without exception (prior to Mr. Grumpy Pants), the garbage men have responded with warmth and affection to their small adoring fans.

    Comment by Maisy | June 16, 2011 | Reply

  6. Ouch, garbage over children!
    Nice read, and nice blog.
    I don’t know, but I would have a hard time to give child to daycare.
    Not that they are bad, but I would be jealous that the daycare provider
    sees them grow.

    Thanks for sharing.


    I view it as a team effort. Me and the parents (and grandparents, friends, aunts, uncles, whoever else they have in their circle of support), a team. A child always, always loves its parents most and first. I am not a parent substitute, I’m a support and expert resource to the parents.

    Comment by Anna | June 16, 2011 | Reply

  7. Maybe his wife knew exactly how he would react …

    And so took in six kids to annoy him? No — to keep him out of the house!!! Devious. I like it.

    Comment by Judy | June 16, 2011 | Reply

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