Bridgette Fossel wrote this for the PrincetonScoop’s Random Acts of Kindness Project:

[quote]As time passed, several cars drove by on the busy road with a 40 mph speed limit, heads from inside the vehicles were arching their necks and staring at my sign that read “Have you thanked your Garbagemen today?!”. Some people beeped in approval with one hand while holding their own morning coffee in the opposite one. Others displayed a smile on their faces, waved or gave me a ‘thumbs-up’. One man in a landscaping company pick-up truck even took both hands off the wheel and dangerously gave me two thumbs-up and a beep with a smile and cheer.

There were a lot of cars however, whose eyes my sign did not catch, and then there were those who just stared. Maybe those cars were accelerating too fast to read, comprehend and react to the sign. Or perhaps they did read it, thought about the words on my sign as I was a distant image in the rear view mirror, and wondered when, if ever, was the last time they thanked or even acknowledged their garbagemen. That is the goal of this project; to make people think and to inspire them to duplicate our act or do their own.[/quote]

Growing up in the West Indies, I remember my parents would personally present a nominal tip and a bottle of rum — it’s the drink of choice in the West Indies — to the garbage men during the Christmas holidays. Over the years, I had thought of doing the same thing with the garbage crew for my neighbourhood but I wasn’t sure of American protocol. Would they understand? Would they think I’m some sort of wacko?

Bridgette’s post has reminded me to do something that I had long forgotten that I wanted to do. So this October, during the Hindu festival of Diwali, I will think of a way to thank my garbage man. Or maybe I’ll do it during the ThanksGiving week.