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9to5to9: The allure of a garbage truck is something Venutians can never understand

Submitted by on Monday, 2 June 2008 No Comment

Originally published May 21, 2008, thehive.modbee.com

Don’t get me wrong: I love men. I really do.

It’s just that at times I cannot understand them. The gap is deeper than the “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” thing, and it’s a handicap when you’re a Venutian trying to raise two little Martians.

Lately, I’ve given up trying to understand and accepted that some things simply are.

I don’t understand why Little Guy has to dismantle every toy in his grasp. “Of course James doesn’t run anymore,” I said after his millionth time tearing apart his train. “He’s not going to work if you take out the battery.”

I don’t grasp why washing cars is fun, though I realize that it this age the appeal has more to do with playing in water. They won’t outgrow it, though. My brother’s bedroom was a health hazard when he was a teen, but you’d never see a speck on his truck.

And I don’t get why garbage-truck day is such a thrill that the guys bolt out of bed, jump into their clothes and gobble their breakfast without a squeak of protest.

Yet, I see it happen every Wednesday, so I have accepted that it must be true.

Three days of the week, it takes a combination of cajoling, lecturing and a stick of dynamite to roust them.

They grump through breakfast and pout through departure. They’re not really civilized human beings until we pull up at school. I don’t hold that against them – I’m not exactly Susie Sunshine myself until I’ve downed at least half a pot of coffee.

Wednesdays are different.

Big Guy starts getting excited Tuesday evening, as we roll the cans to the curb. It’s a task he’s increasingly taken over, which is fine with me. I guess getting ready for the neighborhood celebrity’s weekly rounds is too important for womenfolk to handle.

The following morning, ears that are deaf to pleas to pick up socks or take dishes to the sink can pick up the clang of the truck blocks away.

“It’s garbage day!” Big Guy yelped. “Gotta hurry like I’m furry!”

He didn’t bicker about what he was going to wear – just 24 hours earlier, everything in his dresser was rejected as too big, too ugly or too something. Little Guy followed his example, forgetting to protest when I told him to go potty.

They shoveled in their pancakes, though Big Guy didn’t drink his chocolate milk. He was too much of a hurry to find his shoes – yes, he found his own shoes!

Then the guys rushed to the front window and waited. They didn’t fight for position. “Here, I’ll make room for you,” Big Guy told his brother. Who are these kids?

Minutes later, as a truck rumbled round the corner, they bolted outside.

I’ll be the first to admit that garbage trucks are at least 200 percent cooler than when I was a kid. I used to feel sorry for the men stuck hanging on the back, spending the day jumping off, climbing on and enduring the odor.

These days, it’s levers and electronic arms, if the garbage man is reasonably skilled. And they’re motivated to become skilled quickly. A friend tells of an incident early in his garbage-man days when he missed the truck with a bin and had to pick up a heap of chicken scraps and other rotting rejects from weekend barbecues. Memories of the stench stuck with him for days.

And I suppose it’s the electronic arms and big noise that make it so fascinating. Fascinating enough that one truck simply didn’t suffice. Big Guy, you see, knows that there’s more coming.

So there we sat on a chilly, windy morning, me huddled in a jacket as the guys peered around the corner.

They got cold after a while and jumped on my lap. I laughed out loud at myself, sitting in a lawn chair in my front yard, shivering, hugging the guys and waiting for a garbage truck with as much anticipation as if the Rose Parade were about to pass by.

Big Guy’s suddenly keen ears heard the approaching rumble and they jumped up. They started waving as the truck picked up our neighbor’s bin and didn’t quit until it was out of sight. My fondest hope is that someday the garbage man will notice the little boys who wait for him every week and actually wave back. That would send the guys over the moon.

The best part: It was still five minutes until time to leave and there hadn’t been a cross word all morning.

“Mommy, don’t you wish every day could be garbage day?” Big Guy asked.

Oh, you bet I do. I still don’t get it, but you bet I do.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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