It was a pleasant morning in our city of Brighton, a town already blessed with so many bounties: balmy weather, lot of growth opportunities and a thriving population. However, for me, it was still the same old story! Picking up foul refuge in the early morning pretty much summed up my day. How disgusted I am with the job would be an understatement. Everyday, I think to myself repetitively, “Why has the Almighty chosen me to clear other people’s garbage? Why me to handle this trash”? Don’t I deserve something better? When will my life change?”
Then all of a sudden, the beaming faces of my innocent street kids, John, Sarah and Will come to my mind. What will happen to them if I don’t earn or shy away from this government job? Honestly, it fills my tummy and so many others’ too. So can I adhere to my current whims and fancies and throw away this possibly life changing job?
To the society, I am a trash man but in reality, I clean and clear clutter. Filthy roads, smelly corners, I annihilate them. That definitely adds value to the society. So, even for the time being when I am at my rock bottom in terms of motivation to go to work, the end throughput is inspiring enough to make a move.
Well, with these contemplative thoughts, I cleared the whole trash of the longest street path of King Street in the city centre. My colleagues were pleasantly surprised to see the sheer quantum of waste that I alone accumulated and in fact gave him a reassuring pat on my back. It was a Fun Friday. I was supposed to take a half day leave and meet my beloved street kids. Getting an extra incentive today made all that sense to feed John, Sarah and Will to their fullest or maximum gulping capacity.
On the way, there is this humungous Mcdonald’s with a play area. I thought, why not call them there instead of the mundane street encounters. Those three jumped to the proposition and within no time reached the venue. Needless to say, they had ruffled hair, malodorous hoods and a strange mud like hue on their faces. All this literally hid the inner beauty of their profound minds which was absolutely nerve wracking. To say that, they were true gems won’t be hyperbolic. Simple, truthful, kind and giving is what sums them up.
As I reached the place, the three buddies held me for a surprise. They had bought a small chocolate cake saying, “Thank You.” Will, a more confident of the three uttered, “Uncle Philip, what you are doing for us on a day to day basis is something even our parents are not able to do. They did abandon us at an early age while you embraced us with open arms although it was not at all your duty or priority. Right from the time you have stepped in our lives, we can sense a change and that too a positive one. Now, we look forward to meeting you on weekend and savour some snacks or go to the park or simply enjoy with the colourful balloons that you buy for us every single time. I mean, which street kids get all these perks and that too from a friend and not family? We really are clueless how to thank you and thought a little chocolate cake would do the job.”
I felt on cloud nine. The cake suddenly enlarged and seemed like the best desert that I had devoured. It was not a routine ‘Thanksgiving Day but felt like the grandest one. Sarah, John and offcourse Will applauded and we cut the cake with a renewed vigour. Burgers and fries tasted different and feasty unlike their usual junk food demeanour.
As we finished our short and sweet snack meet, we decided to depart. As I was slowly edging towards the bus stop, I heard these three tots giggling and repeatedly saying, “Philip Uncle is our real life superhero. He may be scathed and called bad names by the folk but he is not an antagonist. Not someone who deserves the pain of rejection and the alleges of being squalid. He did not choose the trash. It chose him to make the world a cleaner place.”
I was literally choking with tears, but the drops rolling were filled with joy, hope and pride and not dejection for a change. I was their superhero, this was no rumour. It was a real, candid and honest feedback that has been on my depot board permanently.
The next morning, my colleagues saw the caption and gave a round of applause. They uttered, “Philip, you really deserve this and more. Despite not being your blood, you are looking after them in your meagre salary and resources. We get inspired by you every single day.”
I went home chuffed and more than motivated to continue as the ‘Brighton’s Trash Man Who does No trash.’ I must reaffirm, heroes are not made in heaven but rise from the ground.