In this Wisdom Note, visualize with me a campground that is not well maintained, and we notice that the garbage bins are overflowing onto the ground, and there is garbage strewn all around. We comment to each other that we sure hope that the garbage truck picks it up soon. What a mess it is! We then think about the purpose of a garbage truck, which is to pick up other people’s smelly and gross garbage and take it somewhere else and dump it. This reminds me of a story of how, if we are not careful, our lives can become like a garbage truck.
This true story was experienced by David Pollay on a business trip to New York City, and it goes like this.
“I hopped in a taxi, and we took off for Grand Central Station. We 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 brakes, the car skidded, the tires squealed, and at the very last moment, our car stopped just one inch from the other car’s back-end.
I couldn’t believe it. But then I couldn’t believe what happened next. The driver of the other car, the guy who almost caused a big accident, whipped his head around and he started cursing at us. How do I know? Ask any New Yorker, some words in New York come with a special face. And he even threw in a one finger salute! I couldn’t believe it!
But then here’s what really blew me away. My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean, he was friendly. So, I said, ‘Why did you just do that!? This guy could have killed us!’ And this is when my taxi driver told me what I now call, ‘The Law of the Garbage Truck®.’
He said, ‘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 look for a place to dump it. And if you let them, they’ll dump it on you. So when someone wants to dump on you, don’t take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Believe me. You’ll be happier.’”
This story should cause you to reflect. How often do you let other people’s garbage trucks dump their trash on you, and then how often do you transfer their garbage and spread it to other people – at work, at home, on the streets? We should not do this; however, that’s easier said than done. When we overreact to people who “dump their garbage” on us, we need to realize that what the other person does is his or her problem, but to the degree that we overreact is our problem. To react in a Christ-like manner, it is imperative that we resolve our “garbage.” If we don’t, we will be forever allowing others to control our moods and trigger our unresolved problems.
After teaching the beatitudes, in the 5th chapter of Matthews’s book of good news, Jesus covered several other areas of teachings, one of which was how we should treat those who have mistreated us.
Matthew 5:43-48, “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
How often do you let other people’s garbage pollute you and change your mood? Do you let a bad driver, rude waiter, curt boss, or an insensitive employee ruin your day? The mark of a successful (wise and mature) person is how quickly he/she can get back his/her focus on what’s important.
The best leaders know that they have to be ready for their next meeting. The best salespeople know that they have to be ready for their next client. And, the best parents know that they have to be ready to greet their children with hugs and kisses, no matter how many garbage trucks they might have faced that day. All of us know that we have to be fully present, and at our best, for the people, we care about.
The bottom line is that successful people do not allow their lives to become garbage trucks. What about you? What would happen in your life starting today if you let more garbage trucks pass you by?
The author of the story above, David Pollay, came up with this.
The No Garbage Truck Pledge
I do not accept garbage in my life.
When I see garbage trucks,
I do not take them personally.
I just smile, I wave,
I wish them well. And I move on.
I do not spread garbage to others, I am not a garbage truck!
I do not accept garbage in my life.
It is so important that we not allow our lives to be like garbage trucks, but instead, we need to free our minds, control our anger, and move on.