Illustration: Sequoia Blankenship
The other day I saw my wife, the Sarge, reading a book with a garbage truck on the cover. Since I have an incredibly quick wit and wry sense of humor, I quickly jested, "Why would you read that? I'm the one that always remembers the garbage!" Chuckling to myself as I got up off the floor, the Sarge explained it was a great book about not letting people dump on you and you not dumping on people.
"In other words," she said, while I nodded and looked as serious and attentive as I possibly could, "we tend to let others' garbage get to us and the key is to let it pass and not accept junk that brings us down at work and at home!" The emphasis was not lost on me, so I said how great it sounded and that I couldn't wait to look at it...which I promptly did as she handed it to me and went to run an errand. As many of you know, this was a time to quickly study the volume in my hand as I was certain a pop quiz would be coming shortly when my spouse/teacher returned.
"The Law of the Garbage Truck" gets right to the point, and a good point it is. We are surrounded by human garbage trucks everywhere in our lives - at home, at work, on and off duty - and the only choice we have is how we react to them since they aren't going away.
David Pollay, the author, explains how he learned this from a taxi driver and when he began to apply it in his life things got a lot better. I have no doubt he's on to something, since this is a message I have read in a hundred different ways but I have never had it expressed in such a "sticky" way.
Some garbage I can see is easy to ignore and just not let in. But others, like the garbage trucks at work, are the ones that can really get under our skin. I know there were times I swore I would scream at the next citizen who "paid my salary" and wanted to know if there weren't "some real criminals I could be harassing" as I wrote a citation for failure to yield to a pedestrian-in the city that led the nation in car-pedestrian fatalities!
When you do that you are taking on their garbage, becoming a garbage truck yourself. In a way, you are giving up control of your mind to the very folks who are dumping on you. Worse, when you really need to keep your head in the game and be attentive to everything around you, you are expending mental energy imagining those people starring in "Saw 13."
Worse still are the garbage trucks we work with or, worst of all, work for. These are the men and women who make pulling into the driveway at the station or headquarter a gut-wrenching moment.
We all know these types, who bully or intimidate us or others at work; and nothing destroys morale more or lowers our enjoyment of life more than the trucks we think can run us over at work. Just think about how many days of your life have been spent obsessing about what someone over you has said or done to you.
I think these purveyors of waste are the real reason our lifespan is so much shorter than the average citizen's. In other words, be happy, live longer...it is the best revenge.
How do we take back our happiness? How do we ignore the garbage trucks all around us and especially those who have power over us? Well, just click your heels together three times and...no not really. It is not going to be easy.
I wish I could say every chief and sheriff in the country will read this book and make your agency a "no garbage truck zone," but the basic truth is it all starts with you and me. We have to decide not to carry garbage around ourselves, not to accept it from others, not to dump it on our families when we get home, not to dump on those who work for us. Simply decide to make you a garbage-free warrior.
I know I am making this sound pretty simplistic, and if you swing by the local library or bookstore you'll see the book has all kinds of things you can use to help you practice the "Law." It all starts with taking the pledge, "I do not accept garbage in my life," which I took right after the Sarge got done with the errand and gave me my quiz.
Dave Smith is the creator of "Buck Savage" and a retired law enforcement officer from Arizona. Currently, he is the lead instructor for Calibre Press' Street Survival seminar.