Friday, December 18, 2009

Joe to the trash!

For a few weeks each December, I look forward to opening my mailbox. The bills and advertisements, while ever-present, get some competition from the Christmas cards and photos from dear friends. But the Christmas card I most look forward to receiving each year doesn’t come in my mailbox—it comes in my trash can. Seriously.

On garbage day this week, I pulled into my driveway after work to find a red envelope sticking out of the trash bin. I was so excited to open my card from Joe the garbage man. Every year he rewrites the lyrics to a popular Christmas carol with lyrics about garbage. And it’s clear from his little ditties that he loves his job.

One year it was “Joe to the trash” sung to the tune of Joy to the World. This year, the tune was O Christmas Tree. It goes like this:

O Garbage Can, O Garbage Can, Thy smells are ever changing
O Garbage Can, O Garbage Can, Thy smells are ever changing
Not only reek when summer’s here, but also when tis’ cold and drear
O Garbage Can, O Garbage Can, Thy smells are ever changing

There are two more verses and choruses that follow, mentioning foul treasure and unsightly insides. This is my fourth Christmas with Joe. And even though I’ve never met him, every year I’m struck by how much joy he has in serving his customers. So what if he’s trying to get a good tip? He’s earned it!

I can think of hundreds of jobs I would rather do than pick up other people’s trash. That’s why his simple gesture of a clever Christmas carol always makes me stop during the hurried Christmas season and think about my attitude about work, life and the occasional “trash” I have to deal with.

I’ll confess that griping and complaining come far too easily to me. But I’m thankful for the little reminders this time of year—a “Merry Christmas” from the bundled up Salvation Army bell ringer, a cheesy, made-for-TV holiday movie, and a Christmas carol from Joe the garbage man—to be filled with joy no matter what my circumstances.


  1. This is one of my favorite stories ever! Joe sets such a great example for all of us in such a clever and amusing way. It encourages me to try and keep that same joyful & thankful attitude about my job...even on the days when it stinks.

  2. It is so much better to be joyful than not and I think Joe has learned this lesson. I would give the man a nice tip. As an aside, I switched garbage haulers this year and the company I am now with did leave a card but with no specific name or address attached to it so that I could tip the person that picks up my trash. Just a Happy Holidays and Happy New Year wish. Something different. I have spoken with the woman that does my route on the phone when I called them one day to ask a question. She seemed like she would be just like Joe, a joyful person happy to be doing good work.

  3. I love this! Joe sets a great example: We are who we DECIDE to be.

    Merry Christmas Joe, and everyone else.