A big green truck comes rumbling through the neighborhood in Snohomish, belching air and exhaling hydraulics and making all sorts of noise.
And every single Friday, Katie Greiert and her little guy Logan walk outside to watch.
Logan has blond hair and he was holding a red bag of M&M’s. He was wearing a green polo shirt and a very serious, brow-furrowed expression, as if he was about to partake in something very important that needed concentration.
He is 2 years old.
When the garbage truck pulls up and picks up the big blue bin in front of their home and empties it into the truck, Logan is transfixed. Transported. Just plain trances.
He watches with his mouth agape, awed. His gaster is flabbered by the garbage man, who steps off the truck and accepts the gift of the M&M’s, and offers a high-5.
He smiles and says, “Thanks, buddy,” and then he’s gone, off to the next house.
Lots of little boys and girls are fascinated by the garbage man. But Logan? Logan takes it to a whole new level.
His favorite toy is a green garbage truck, just like the one that comes to his home. He practices dumping stuff into it, and then back out again, all the while making his own truck noises.
Katie says that Fridays are the highlight of Logan’s whole week, that he talks about them and probably dreams about them, too. About 11:20 they go to sit on their knees on the couch by the window and wait. And sometimes other trucks come by and Logan gets all excited, but they aren’t the garbage truck, so he’s disappointed.
But then there is that special truck noise that belongs to only one truck, THE truck, and Mom says in her excited voice, “Oh! Do you hear it?”
Logan jumps off the couch and runs to the entry-way of the house and hurriedly slips into his blue plastic Crocs. Almost as an afterthought he reaches back to grab the treat that is there waiting on a table as he bolts out the door.
Mom follows, and the two of them stand there in their driveway.
Logan points and begins to babble. “He’s way down there…”
Katie repeats after him. “He’s way down there.”
As the truck draws closer to their bin, Mom says, “Are you ready?”
Logan answers, “Gonna get this one! Gonna get this one!”
And, just like last week, the trucks sends out a steel arm that grabs the bin and lifts it and shakes everything out of it.
Just like last week, Logan watches in wide-eyed wonder.
This time the treat is a candy bar, and this time the garbage man says, “Hey Bud! Whoooaaah! Wow! Look at that bad boy! I feel special now.”
When it first started months ago, Logan was suspicious of the garbage man. He wouldn’t smile or speak at all. But now their friendship has grown to the point where as he continues down the street, the garbage man turns back at every single driveway to see if Logan is still watching. And he waves. And Logan waves back. It’s their little ritual.
The garbage man is named Kahli Smith. “I look forward to Fridays,” he says, “he’s great.”
He loves the fact that after all these months, he’s finally won Logan over.
“It’s incredible. It just makes our job so much more enjoyable. To see these guys’ smiling faces and stuff, waving at you…”
One Friday morning not long ago, Kahli did something sweet and wonderful. One of those little gestures that make life better.
The Greierts were on vacation, and when the truck pulled up, there was nobody waiting.
Kahli took a moment and wrote out a little note. It said, “For the little man of the house.”
He placed it on top of the Greierts’ blue bin. And on top of the note he placed an official Snohomish County Waste Management cap. Just like the one he wears.
It was a gift for his biggest fan.
When the family got home, Logan was thrilled by the gift.
“We were just blown away,” says Katie. “He would put it on and was so proud of it. Little things like that totally make a kid’s day.”
So, now on Fridays Logan wears his favorite hat when it’s garbage time.
And his friendship with Kahli has grown.
One day recently, the garbage man held out his arms and Katie let him hold Logan up inside the truck. “You gonna help me pick up all that garbage down the street?” asked Kahli.
As always, Logan was speechless in the presence of his hero.
Kahli came up with a great idea. “You want to honk the horn?”
He pointed to a chain hanging down and said, “Right here… pull on that.”
Logan put his hand on the chain and pulled down and the horn exploded all around them.
Logan was in heaven.
“Yeah!” said Kahli. “You’re a garbage man now!”
And then he handed Logan back to his mom and continued on his way, because that garbage that lined that street wasn’t going to pick itself up.
Logan and Katie waved from a distance at every stop, and Kahli didn’t let them down. He waved back at them, over and over again as he made his way down the road.
Logan slurred the words, “Goodbye, garbage man. Pretty cool.”
It’s not going to fix what’s wrong in the world, this little friendship.
But a sweet gesture, a little bit of kindness in the neighborhood, can’t hurt can it?
It sure can’t hurt.