My Garbage Man Is Definitely a Hero

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The other week at my (awesome) Unitarian church, a woman I met during greeting time said this: “You have three kids? So you pretty much deserve the hero award just for waking up.”

It was sweet. Really sweet. I appreciated the compliment. But I didn’t know how to respond.

I tried this: “No, not at all. It’s not that bad, really.”

She said, “I have two kids, and parenting is the hardest thing I do,” and then my humility in disregarding her praise turned into hubris, right before my eyes. (This happens to me a lot.)

“That isn’t my experience,” I said cautiously. “So far, I like this job the best.” I wanted to say more, but the minister resumed the service.

I would love to talk to her again. And maybe I will. But for now, let me get something off my chest.

Parenting is hard. Super, super hard. Mostly because I don’t have a lot of free time. But here are some other things I don’t have: A set schedule; a time clock; work clothes; spreadsheets; deathly boredom; rush-hour traffic; a commute; meetings; pointless busywork; the feeling that I’m not making a difference; replacibility; burnt coffee; meetings; sitting in the same room every day, all day; office politics; dealing with people every day that disrespect me; customers; deadlines; sales pressure; fake smiles; the need to pretend to be busy; carpel tunnel; lack of creativity; lack of autonomy; lack of passion; hours and hours of socialization while on the clock; Sunday evening dread. And finally:
A boss.

So let’s take a moment to appreciate the bus drivers, office workers, clerks, managers and salespeople of the world. Especially that garbage man that always waves to my kids.

I think you guys are all heroes.

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After Rachel and Matthew had their first child, they had a couple of fights. Well, okay, more than a couple—they fought for over three years. They fought about schedules. They fought about bad habits. They even fought about the lawn mower. And besides actually having their child, it was the best thing that could've happened. Get Fights You’ll Have After Having a Baby: A Self-Help Story on Amazon now.

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8 comments

  1. So glad you’re a UU! When we decided to move away from Austin, one of the requirements for our new home was a UU congregation. We found in the wonderful little UU Church of the Hill Country in the sweet small town of Kerrville, Texas.

    1. That said, I am not a member and don’t plan to become one. Personal hangups! 🙂 But it’s a great place. And I think there are so many similarities between all UUs that, small town or not, you’ll fit in there.

  2. A hero is a person who helps you when you need it. So, yes, the garbage man is a hero, especially if he waves to your children every day. I find many people to be heroes, some by just listening, some by talking, and some by not saying anything just doing something I appreciate.
    Glad we have so many in our lives.

    1. I just think moms get all the credit sometimes. My job is hard, sure. But I don’t have to get up at 4:30 a.m. to get to a transfer station and work 10 hours a day plus commute.

  3. Your garbage man is suffering from hegemonic cis-male privilege in rape culture-centric society that celebrates toxic masculinity and male privilege.

    When 50% of garbage persons are transwomen, only then, ONLY THEN, can we celebrate the arrival of a truly equitable society.

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