Friday, March 02, 2012

The Law of the Garbage Truck

You know those cheesy forwards you get via email and you just delete em? Well, I do. Maybe you're nice and feel obligated to read them, or worse you believe the chain mail threats and actually forward them on to your so-called friends. Not me. I am all too happy to send them into cyberspace oblivion. And I don't lose a minute of peace over it, either.

Except this one that I'm posting today. I did read this one for some reason-- I guess because the idea of a philosophy about garbage trucks drew me in. (Hint to writers: think of an interesting title to make your intended reader actually read.)

And after I read it, I thought about it. And this morning I saw this woman nearly ram her car into this other woman and then proceed to scream and gesture at the woman while we (the other drivers) all looked on in horror and confusion. (Why was the woman whose fault it nearly was going off on the poor unsuspecting driver who just happened to be in her vicinity when she decided to execute a poorly-timed unprotected left hand turn? None of us knew.) The first thing that came to my mind was the garbage truck metaphor. And that's when I knew I would share it with you all. Because if it stuck with me, it might stick with you too.

Admit it, now you want to know what it is... well wait no more!

Law of the Garbage Truck

One day I hopped in a taxi and we took off for the airport

We were driving in the right lane when suddenly a black car jumped 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! The driver of the other car whipped his head around and started yelling at us.

My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And 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,'The Law of the Garbage Truck.'

He explained that many people are like garbage trucks. They run aroundfull of garbage, 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'll 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 bottom line is that successful people do not let garbage trucks take over their day.

And so that's my shared wisdom for the day. It's one of those things I just know I'll be sharing with my kids at the earliest possible opportunity. I realize it's not Nietzsche or Plato or Aristotle or any of those other philosophers that get quoted a lot that I have a theory none of us have actually really read.

But the next time you encounter someone spewing garbage, maybe now you'll see them differently and not let them rattle you or detour your day into THE BAD PLACE. (I don't know about you, but I have lots of shortcuts to get to the bad place-- I can go there faster than most.) But not anymore-- oh no! Now I will smile, wave, and drive on, intent on getting where I'm going.

Ok, and-- no lie-- as I finished writing this, Carly Simon's song "Haven't Got Time For The Pain" came on Sirius. Perfect song for this post!
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Arlene Grimm said...

Totally Agree....I am always shring this with my husband who gets so frustrated with those kinds of drivers! I always remind him that we do not know why they are distracted. It could be they just got bad news, they might not be feeling well etc...He always tells me that they are just crazy!lol...We must extend Grace when we can!

Lillian said...

Great post, Marybeth. I love The Law of the Garbage Truck. You can get the original article from the author, David J. Pollay, here: (there's also a mini-movie about The Law on the page)

Once I learned The Law, it's been easier to focus on what's important in my life, not the things I cannot control.

Have a beautiful weekend,

Marianne said...

i had received that one earlier, and also read it. Now i read it again. And it made me think of tonight...i was out to dinner with friends at a buffet. While i was eating and visiting a girl and her mother came by with their drinks. The young girl stumbled and spilled her drink on my shoe. i questioningly looked at her and asked was it me? (knowing it couldn't have been) and the mother said "That's okay". i could have taken offense, but my friends and i, as well as the waitress just chuckled. Not sure what the mother and daughter thought about that. Thanks for the Law of the Garbage Truck