My rubbish is quickly and efficiently collected early every Thursday morning, apparently by a man named “Jesus.”
I know his name because it came to me last week in a holiday greeting card wedged under the lid of my emptied can. When I opened the envelope and pulled out the card, the inscription read, “Happy Holidays, Trash Man Jesus.”
My wife and I then got into a discussion over the proper pronunciation of “Jesus,” because during the holiday season I do not want to get on the wrong side of, well, you know — the big guy above.
My wife says it’s pronounced “Hay-Zoos.” There are, after all, a hundreds of thousands of Mexicans and Latinos in and around metropolitan Denver.
I took a different view.
“Maybe it is,” I said, “but what if it isn’t pronounced that way? What if it’s Jesus — like the real Jesus?”
You may join her in laughing at my naivete but I am a man who is ultra-respectful of all religions and people different than me. This respect goes back a very long way.
Years ago in South Florida I took my brother-in-law to a jai-alai fronton in Dania, near Fort Lauderdale. The gambling program lists each competitor by his first name or nickname and, since many players learn the game in Spain, most of the players are Basques. Because of that the program is full of players identified by their Spanish first names.
Most gamblers at paramutuel wagering establishments make their bets based on the competitors’ records, which tend to indicate historic success.
Not me. One player with a very bad record who was playing that night was identified in the program as “Jesus.” The odds on Jesus were long because he rarely finished in the money, and almost never won. My brother-in-law passed on Jesus and then asked me who I was taking.
“Jesus,” I replied. “I don’t care how bad his record is. I am never betting against a guy named Jesus.”
Jesus got waxed early, one of the first eliminated. When my brother-in-law again questioned the logic of my selection I shrugged and said, “I didn’t expect to win. I’m just hopin’ for a long-term return.”
Trash Man Jesus had put his greeting card in a plain envelope, so I assumed he was trolling for year-end tip money. At my house, it was a smart play because I will send him some — not because he asked but because he does a heck of a good job. He is very conscientious.
For example, if something flutters away or falls loose, he tracks it down and picks it up. Lids are respectfully replaced and the cans are always aligned toward the garage. TMJ takes pride in his work. I respect and appreciate that.
Everywhere I go these days it seems hands or jars are asking for free money. In San Francisco, panhandlers are on every corner. At traffic light intersections “Will Work For Food” franchisees bum cash. Tip jars sit on every counter, even in self-service locations. Some are decorated with hand-drawn smiley faces, even though the workers hoping to collect are sometimes unpleasant grumps or inefficient sloths. Other jars are adorned with “TIPS” in giant letters.
Bigger is not better for me. I get it.
But few of those seeking tips or handouts care as much about the meticulous execution of a necessary but unglamorous job as Trash Man Jesus. I am a fan of TMJ and it is his work discipline impresses me. He has pride in what he does and I’ve seem him prove it in all types of weather, as my office looks out onto his workplace.
Late December is a good time for all of us to find and honor a Trash Man Jesus in our lives — an unsung hero — and thank or surprise him or her with a random act of kindness. This, to me, is the real reason for the season — turning respect and brotherhood into a full contact sport.
Happy holidays to you . . . and all the Trash Men Jesuses who inspire us with their hard work, discipline, and dignity. We could use more.
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