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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  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.