The Garbageman and the Virtue of Humility
From Bob Perks comes a wonderful story on the virtue of humility. Bob is an author and inspirational speaker. He once worked for a short time going door to door, taking surveys. He tells this story about one particular home he was invited into. It was an older home, comfortable and welcoming, in a section of town for people with meager incomes. As he began his introduction the young woman interrupted him...
“'Would you like a glass of cold water? You look like you’ve had a rough day.'
'Why yes!' I said eagerly.
Just as she returned with the water, a man came walking in the front door. It was her husband.
'Joe, this man is here to do a survey.' I stood and politely introduced myself.
Joe was tall and lean. His face was rough and aged looking although I figured he was in his early twenties. His hands were like leather. The kind of hands you get from working hard, not pushing pencils.
She leaned toward him and kissed him gently on the cheek. As they looked at each other you could see the love that held them together. She smiled and titled her head, laying it on his shoulder.
He touched her face with his hands and softly said 'I love you!'
They may not have had material wealth, but these two were richer than most people I know. They had a powerful love. The kind of love that keeps your head up when things are looking down.'Joe works for the borough.' she said.
'What do you do?' I asked.
She jumped right in not letting him answer. 'Joe collects garbage. You know I’m so proud of him.'
'Honey, I’m sure the man doesn’t want to hear this.' said Joe.
'No, really I do.' I said.
'You see Bob, Joe is the best garbage man in the borough. He can stack more garbage on the truck than anyone else. He gets so much in one truck that they don’t have to make as many runs.,' she said with such passion.
'In the long run,' Joe continues, “I save the borough money. Man hours are down and the cost per truck is less.'
There was silence. I didn’t know what to say. I shook my head searching for the right words. 'That’s incredible! Most people would gripe about a job like that. It certainly is a difficult one. But your attitude about it is amazing.' I said.
She walked over to the shelf next to the couch. As she turned she held in her hand a small framed paper.
'When we had our third child Joe lost his job. We were on unemployment for a time and then eventually welfare. He couldn’t find work any where. Then one day he was sent on an interview here in this community. They offered him the job he now holds. He came home depressed and ashamed. Telling me this was the best he could do. It actually paid less than we got on welfare.'
She paused for a moment and walked toward Joe.
'I have always been proud of him and always will be. You see I don’t think the job makes the man. I believe the man makes the job!'
'We needed to live in the borough in order to work here. So we rented this home.' Joe said.
'When we moved in, this quote was hanging on the wall just inside the front door. It has made all the difference to us, Bob. I knew that Joe was doing the right thing.' she said as she handed me the frame.
It said: If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep the streets even as Michelangelo painted or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.' - Martin Luther King
'I love him for who he is. But what he does he does the best. I love my garbage man!'
(Bob Perks Copyright 2001. Used with permission)
If we would be blessed (happy), then it is for us to follow Christ in His humility. This means putting God and the needs of our brothers and sisters ahead of everything else.
Poor in spirit, clean of heart, a peacemaker, merciful and mournful, meek, and a seeker of justice, these are the qualities of a humble person.