Be Your Own Garbage Collector

For the longest time my grandson Sam liked to watch YouTube videos on garbage collection. That’s right, videos of various kinds of garbage trucks collecting various kinds of garbage. It’s actually quite surprising how many different kinds of vehicles have been invented to pick up garbage.

Anyway, I spent a fair amount of grandpa time contemplating garbage collection and have a couple of my own stories to share.

Years ago, I was in New York taking a taxi to the airport. We were in the right lane when suddenly a car pulled out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, skidded, and missed the other car by just inches.
All very harrowing!

The driver of the other car then leaned out the window and started yelling at us. My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. I mean, he was really friendly.

So I asked, “Why did you just do that? This guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital!”

This is when my taxi driver taught me what I now call, Be Your Own Garbage Collector.”

He explained that many people are like garbage trucks.

  • They are full of frustration,
  • full of anger, and
  • full of disappointment.

As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it and sometimes they dump it on you. Don’t take it personally; just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Don’t take their garbage and spread it to other people at work, at home, or on the streets.

The lesson the taxi driver shared is how important it is to empty the garbage from our hearts and minds each day. It’s the only way to find peace of mind.


Which reminds of my own story of taking out my garbage:

I was living in Seattle and had just completed my 5th Step (sharing my personal inventory with my sponsor) which is kind of like sharing all one’s accumulated garbage with another.

It was Monday morning and I had an important meeting with a group of bankers.

  • I had worked all weekend on my presentation.
  • I wanted to be seen as an expert in my field.
  • I was determined to make the right first impression.

When it was time to leave for the meeting I grabbed the bag of smelly garbage from my kitchen, thinking I would dump it into the garbage can on my way to the car.

I sped off with my mind in a whirl about what I intended to say. I rolled off the I-5 freeway directly into the bank’s parking garage and took the elevator to the top floor.

  • I felt like a lion ready to roar!
  • A bull ready to charge!
  • A tiger ready to spring!

Upon exiting the elevator I was ushered into the boardroom where I found four bank executives already seated. I was led to the front of the table where there was everything I needed to make my presentation.

It’s then I took note of the puzzled, quizzical looks on the faces of the bankers.

I looked down, to the beautiful mahogany conference table, where I had neatly placed my bag of garbage.

It had never left my hand.

I looked up — caught the eyes of all those present — looked back at my garbage — and a broad grin came over my face. They all burst out in laughter! This went on for a minute or two before I asked permission to step out to dump my garbage.

When I returned to the boardroom, it was clear that I had inadvertently stumbled upon the ice-breaker to end all ice-breakers.

When we got to the Q&A, all anybody wanted to talk about was my bag of garbage and to relive the moment when I deposited it on their beautiful conference table.

I thought how many times I’d carried my “thought garbage” with me, always hidden away but nevertheless ready to contaminate the moment with an angry response, unkind remark, or cynical comment. How good it felt to be out front with my garbage where everybody could see it, laugh at it, and recycle it all with good humor.

Just a thought…


Copyright © 2020 Patrick J. Moriarty. All Rights Reserved.

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