Today’s post is brought to you by the letter B and the category Memoirs
I was born in 1974.
I don’t remember it. That may be a good thing, considering the clothes everyone was wearing back then.
I was the garbage man’s kid. Some of you may have been the post man’s kid (for real) but I hailed from a line of garbage men. Grandpa was a garbage man, dad was a garbage man and I was destined to become a garbage man. I was OK with it. It was an honorable profession and Gramps and Dad were very professional business men. They ran a good ship you might say.
As things tend to do, this particular profession was not in the cards for me as the business was sold to the giants that were slowly murdering the small time guys and there wasn’t much choice but to sell out, take the table scraps and run. Which is what happened. My career as a garbage man was cut short.
I can still remember those hot summer days when all my friends were running through the sprinklers in their front yards. The grass was green, the sky was blue and the sun was brilliant. One of those days that makes you proud to be alive, proud to be an American. Those were the good old days of family picnics and barbequed chicken, flying kites and swimming in the local lakes. The best of times, before rampant terrorism and 911 paralyzed our nation. When it was OK to let your kids out to play and the only thing that brought them back was the porch light turning on. Those days were precious. Those days I was in the age range of 8-14.
While all those kids were playing their summers away I was hanging off the back of a garbage truck. ‘Picking trash’ is what we called it. I was a hanger-man. My arm hooked in the big D-ring on the back of the truck and leaning into the breeze to catch the fresh air and a few smattering of late season June bugs. I scooped up trash from 7am until 4 or 5 pm every day of the week.
I wasn’t forced to, if that’s what you’re thinking. I liked it. I liked going to work with my Dad, being around those big trucks and their diesel engines which belched out black clouds of smoke every time they accelerated. I loved the feeling of freedom I got knowing that I was “on my own” and making money. I felt responsible. I felt purposed.
When I think back to those days I don’t think about all of the lost summers, I don’t think about the hard work, the sweat and the stench. I think about who I am, as a direct result of those years. My work ethic and my drive. Our parents help to build us but I believe, ultimately, that we build ourselves. I think we all have something inside of us from birth that dictates who and what we will become. I think I was born to be a worker. Like my Father before me and my Grandfather before him. We were born to be…