No. 626



Have you ever let some thoughtless, insensitive person ruin your day because of something they said or did to you? Well, that’s a loaded question. We all have. In most cases it’s hard to deal with, especially if this person is one we encounter on a regular basis.
All of us have bad days from time to time, and if we are not careful the natural thing to do is take our sour mood or poor disposition out on someone else. Out in the public square and even at work, we have things like this happen all too frequently, and if we are not careful or don’t know how to deal with these all-too-frequent occurrences, we stay hurt or upset more than we should.
Fortunately, a friend sent me something a while back that could be a big part of the solution to the negative things we encounter almost every day, like a rude waitress, a driver that cuts us off and then has the audacity to shake his fist as us, a curt boss or an insensitive customer. What this friend sent me was one of those countless e-mails we all receive. This one was called “The Law of the Garbage Truck.” I checked it out on the Internet and found several listings, but could not determine for sure the author’s name. If you know, please share it with me and I will be happy to give them credit. The reason I am sharing this piece is because it has such a powerful message that applies to all of us.
It seems a man in New York City flagged down a taxi several years ago, and here is what happened. He says, “We took off for Grand Central Station and were driving in the right lane when, all of a sudden, a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his breaks, skidded, and missed the other car’s back end by just inches! The driver of the other car, the guy that almost caused the accident, whipped his head around and started yelling bad words at us. My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. I mean he was friendly.
“So, I said, ‘Why did you just do that? This guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital!’ And this is when my taxi driver told me what I now call, ‘The Law of the Garbage Truck.’ Many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it. And if you let them, they’ll dump it on you. When someone wants to dump on you, don’t take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish the person well, and move on. You’ll be happy you did. And THEY will have a lighter load of garbage to dump on someone else’.
“So that was it: the ‘Law of the Garbage Truck.’ I started thinking about how often I let garbage trucks run right over me. And how often do I take THEIR garbage and dump it on other people: at work, at home, on the streets? It was that day that I said, ‘I’m not going to do it anymore.’ I began to see garbage trucks. Like the movie ‘The Sixth Sense,’ the little boy said, ‘I See Dead People.’ Well, now ‘I See Garbage Trucks.’ I see the load they are carrying. I see them coming to drop it off. And like my taxi driver, I don’t make it a personal thing: I just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on.
“One of the best football players of all time, Walter Payton, did this every day on the football field. He would jump up as quickly as he hit the ground after being tackled. He never dwelled on a hit and was always ready to make the next play his best. He also didn’t want the tackler to think that he had gotten the best of him. Walter decided that he would win by jumping back up. You can, too.
“Good leaders know they have to be ready for their next meeting. Good parents know they have to welcome their children home from school with hugs and kisses. Leaders and parents know they have to be fully present and at their best for the people they care about. The bottom line is that successful people do not let garbage trucks take over their day. Life’s too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, so … love the people who treat you right. And pray for the ones who don’t. Only God can change them. If you get a chance, TAKE IT! If it changes your life, LET IT! Nobody ever said it would be easy. They just promised that it would be worth it.”
To me, whether it’s true or not, this wonderful story helps to place things in the proper perspective. However, here is a word of caution. We must be able to separate the wheat from the chaff. We should never begin to think that everyone is a garbage truck, because most people are nice people and we should always expect the best from everyone.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To support literacy, buy his book: “Learning, Earning & Giving Back.”)