3 minutes reading time (679 words)

7 Powerful Lessons To Be Learned From My Trash Guys



A Little Trash Talk

We can all learn a ton about life, business, and effective client service by simply following the trash collection guys around my old neighborhood. Their names are Chris and Buck. The fact that I even know their names speaks volumes.

  1. They hustle.

    These guys are some of the hardest working men I have ever seen.
  2. They are courteous.

    When you greet them, Chris and Buck would always have genuine smiles on their faces.
  3. They are efficient.

    These guys park their truck strategically in front of several houses, then explode off the truck, quickly grabbing all the nearby cans to bring to the truck for unloading, and then back in place within seconds. So impressive!

    Whenever they discover a can with only a single trash bag inside, rather than rolling the can to and from the truck, they just grab the bag and take it to the truck, saving precious steps.

  4. They are considerate.

    We used a bungee cord on our can to make sure the wind didn’t blow the lid open. Not only did they never complain about having to unfasten the bungee cord – they actually put it neatly back in place when they were done.

    If they noticed my garage door opening, they’d immediately move their truck without being asked, just to be sure they weren’t blocking our driveway as one of us was trying to pull out.

    If anything ever came up that threw off their collection schedule, we’d always get a call explaining what had happened, along with an apology for any inconvenience.

  5. They’re smart.

    Trash-Guys Christmas card and goodies

    A couple of weeks before Christmas, they’d sign a Christmas card before neatly securing it to the trash can lid for us to discover.

    The following week — reminded by their thoughtful Christmas card to us — my wife would reciprocate with some Christmas goodies.

    As I said, these guys are smart!

  6. They Aren't legalistic.

    Chris and Buck never stood on policy or principal when we occasionally put out more trash than would fit in the allotted trash bin.

    After Christmas, they were unfailingly happy to pick up just about anything, including the dried remains of our fresh-cut Christmas tree.

  7. They ARE team players.

    One morning, I noticed that the truck was only manned by one person, instead of the usual two. I’m not sure what was going on that day, but it meant a huge amount of extra work for Buck: driving the truck from house to house, jumping out to collect the cans on both sides of the street, emptying them into the compactor, then returning the cans to each house before jumping back into the truck. Surprisingly, Buck didn’t seem to be put out by all the extra effort. Actually, he seemed quite chipper. And believe it or not, doing the job solo didn’t seem to take him all that much longer.

    But then I noticed his partner Chris was actually sitting in the passenger seat of the truck. I don’t know if he was taking a scheduled break, had to take care of some personal business, or maybe he wasn’t feeling well. But it didn’t matter. Clearly, these two had each others’ backs.


As you can tell, I have a great deal of respect for these positive, unpretentious workers. I seriously doubt that they ever referred to themselves as “sanitation engineers” — just hard-working “trash men,” providing for their families and taking quiet pride in going above and beyond.

This country was built on the backs of men and women like these two. And beyond merely providing a needed service within their community, they’re living proof that timeless ideals like positivity, empathy, and doing the right thing will never go out of fashion. Our businesses can all benefit from their example. Thanks for the education, guys!

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