Readers were touched this week by the story of young Zachery Harrison and his dream to pilot a garbage truck. It was a perfect story for the season about the joy of simplicity and caring and the good will of people in the world who are willing to supply such things. Thanks to Allied Waste Services and TURN Community Services, Zach, who is autistic, got his wish. In his mind, it was better than King for a Day. He was Garbage Man for a Day.
And those shots of him aboard the truck drove home a valuable lesson: being negative, sarcastic and ironic is easy. Being earnest and authentic is not. And Zach Harrison's Christmas gift this year was authenticity in action.
Yet more than that, the episode allowed people to remember the essence of an old Asian saying: "Any task, when performed with the right attitude, leads to God." Every task is an important one.
Last week, Bountiful Mayor Joe Johnson told the Deseret Morning News that the most upbeat letters he receives come from people praising the workers who gather their trash. Over the years the task has changed no more clanging galvanized garbage cans and hefting around sloppy paper sacks filled with everything from cantaloupe rinds to month-old milk. But the attitudes of most of the men behind the wheel is what it always has been: do the job, do it on time and lend a helping hand. In fact, if you're thinking about giving a little Christmas something to the folks who drop by your house regularly the letter carriers, newspaper carriers, and snow crews don't forget to factor in the people in the big truck. (Make sure you deliver your gift by hand, however. If you don't, heaven knows where it will wind up.)
Given the rigors and drawbacks of the job, collectors handle their task with amazing dedication and humanity. Most public servants do. We forget that sometimes. If you don't believe it, ask the Harrison family. From here to kingdom come, they'll never see a garbage truck that doesn't make them smile. Especially Zach.