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The Garbage Man Became Our Superhero

By Masada Siegel

Scottsdale, Ariz. he screeching of the wheels would kick our feet into high gear. Racing to the front of the
house, we flew out the front door. We never wanted to miss the recycling truck pick up the big pink bucket in front of our home. We would wave and the driver would honk.
The smile on my toddler son’s face would grow as he announced, “He made beep beep for me.”
Once we were late and we missed the truck. My boy was so disap­ pointed that the next week, I flagged the driver down and introduced the two of us.
A cheerful voice from high up in the truck beamed down: “Nice to meet you, I’m Vince. So great to see you guys all the time.”
“Yes, you are the highlight of the

week.” I smiled. “Could you give me your phone number?” He looked at me quizzically. “If you don’t mind texting and letting us know five min­ utes before you come so we don’t miss you-that would be great.”
So began our friendship with
Vince. Recently, I said to him, “It’s the little guy’s birthday next week. Could you do something special for him?” I was thinking perhaps Vince would bring him a gift from the Scottsdale recycling program.
As I sat with my preschooler in our driveway drawing with Crayola chalk, waiting for Vince, who had tex­ ted me the five-minute warning, we saw the truck rumble down the street. Moments later empty boxes, bottles and plastics all flew into the truck, my son watched with delight. Then, like a superhero in a film,Vmce stopped, opened the door, stepped down and walked toward us.

In the years we have known him, we have never seen him out of the truck. He was holding a bag that said “Birthday Boy” on it.
He spoke looking at my little guy:
”I know it is your birthday tomorrow but I will not be here, so my little boy helped me pick out a special gift for you.”
He handed my son the bag. Inside
was a recycling truck, a school bus and a fire truck that all lit up and made sounds. My son, delighted and surprised, looked up shyly and thanked him. It was a moment of per­ fection, when everything was right in the world. When a big town got small, and a thoughtful friendship made a little boy feel extra special. It’s the little actions that matter, be­ cause those are the ones that tum into memories that last a lifetime.

Ms. Siegel is a freelance journalist.
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