There are people you expect to hold great influence over your children: grandparents, siblings, carefully chosen caregivers, kindergarten teachers.
And then there are those you don’t see coming. People whose very existence makes your child’s world a better place, who send your small boy into an actual quiver of excitement and nearly unbearable anticipation the minute they drive into view.
People like your local sanitation truck driver.
We hear the rumble of the truck and drop everything, scrambling outside as the dog circles maniacally around us. Missing this would be bad. Really bad.
And then, we wait.
Big truck come, he says. Pick trash up.
Yes, I tell him. He’s coming.
Guy in ‘dere.
Yes, sweet boy. There’s a guy in there.
And still, we wait.
‘Dere is, Mama!
When the truck comes around the corner we stand up and I hold him. His whole body is tense with excitement. His fair brows furrow. He does not smile but neither does he shy away as the giant metal monster nears.
As promised, the guy in the big truck comes. He waves at us from his high station. Sometimes he honks. We watch the enormous robot claw arm hug the trash can, lift it over the open bed of the truck and dump in a week’s worth of life’s excess: dirty diapers, fruit snacks wrappers, lollipop sticks, paper towels soaked in spilled milk, tissues wet with tears and snot.
Truck and driver disappear around the corner, knowing not how important they are to us, how much we talk about them, how happy they make one little blonde boy and his mama.
And then it’s over. Until Recycling Day.