The place where I take our trash and the recyclables is right down the road, maybe two blocks away if we had actual blocks here in Lloyd and it's a very convenient system for us. When things get full, we load up the car and take them. I don't like to let things pile up so I go a few times a week and it's a cheap and easy way to feel as if I've accomplished one small thing, made our living area a little tidier, a little bit more peaceful, you know?
Two days ago when I was first coming down with this cold I was in town and did something I vow never to do which is to go to Walmart because the old plastic trash can I use to keep my glass recyclables in had a busted side and even if I used a bag in it, the floor beneath it would get nasty and the Walmart is literally across the street from where Lily's street is and I was right there and so I did, I went to the hated Walmart and I bought the trash can and it's been sitting there for two days while my floor was getting nastier but this morning my entire goal for the day was to take that old trash can down to the dump place along with the rest of the trash and stuff and so this morning I did.
There's always an attendent down there at the trash place and their faces have become familiar to me. There's the old man who used the N-word one day and I got so mad thinking about it that I went back and gave him a piece of my mind the next day and he and I have been on a coldly polite basis ever since. There's the short guy who is always cheerful and helpful and who likes to talk. Those are the two main guys. I've seen a few other people there but never more than once or twice.
So I was surprised today to see a new person. First of all, she was a woman. Secondly, she was older than I am and third, she was about half a foot shorter than I am which is not tall. I doubt she's five feet. But she looked strong and she looked healthy and as soon as I pulled up and got out of the car she was right there offering her help which felt...odd because she's a woman and maybe that's sexist but also, the fact that she's older and so tiny, even in her black boots which looked brand new. Even with my cold I felt like a big strapping thing next to her.
"You're new here!" I said.
"First day!" she answered.
I looked around and the place looked immaculate. Not one scrap of trash on the ground and all of the recycle doors shut tidily without the usual over-spillage. It all looked completely under control and I told her how nice it looked.
"Aw, it wasn't too bad," she said.
And then she proceeded to help me although I really didn't need one bit of help and she asked me about my Christmas and she told me that she'd had a great one and that her grandkids had come and they'd spent the whole day with her and right there we had a bond- grandkids. She took my old busted up trash can from me and opened up the plastic recycles door and despite the fact that it looked full and was fairly high off the ground, she managed to get that thing in there. She also had a knife to break down a cardboard box I had and did that for me too. This woman was prepared, ready, able and willing to do a very good job.
Another woman drove up and went to put a gift box in the cardboard place and the woman attendant took it from her to put in. "Wait," the woman said, before she handed it over. "Let me check to make sure I didn't leave any money in there."
"Oh, I would have found it," the attendant said. "I would have gotten it back to you."
"How?" the woman said. "You don't know who I am."
"I would have figured it out. I like to sleep at night."
"I know what you mean," said the other woman.
I truly do believe that that little sparkplug of a woman in gloves and the fluorescent green vest and new black boots would have figured out how to find that woman and get her money back to her. You could just tell that she really is that sort of woman.
Sometimes I think about women like Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren or whoever that woman is who's the CEO of Google these days and I'm in awe and they make me feel completely inadequate and I feel basically the same way about women who have done almost anything Important with a capital "I" with their lives whether becoming attorneys who work for civil rights or women's rights or who have become doctors or dancers or writers of renown but I somehow get the same feeling looking at this little woman who is the new attendant at the trash depot. She is doing a job and it's an important job in our little community and she appears to be doing it full-heartedly and with cheer and enthusiasm and doing it well.
Could I do that job with such cheerful ability? Could I simply accept the fact that I needed to work to support myself and that here was a job that I could do even if it was hard and messy and not really recognized as Important or even respected and so I should take it and do it to the best of my ability?
I don't think so. I like to think I could and that I would but I'm not really sure that's the truth.
Well. That's what I'm thinking about this morning in Lloyd. I feel better and now that I've taken my trash and gotten the floor cleaned and the laundry going I feel as if I've accomplished something, even if it's not much. I feel better than I did yesterday but still as if I am a walking font of germs and snot. I'm going to take another slow day to rest up and I'm so very grateful that I have that option. I know that many, many people do not and would simply have to dose themselves with DayQuil and get on with it, feeling like shit and I'm the lucky one because I don't have to do that.
There are a lot of things I don't have to do but one thing I do believe I have to do is to recognize the human spirit when it is presented to me as concretely and sturdily as it was this morning. To be humbled by it, to be, yes, inspired by it whether it is presented in the form of an author I admire or a comedian or the woman who works down the road at the trash depot in Lloyd.
And so I have. And so I do.
Happy Friday, y'all.