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Rated: E · Essay · Contest Entry · #2167636
A story about me being a garbage man, inspired by a true aspiration I had as a kid.
Prompt: Think back to your childhood when someone would ask “what do you want to be when you grow up?” And write a story about how your life would be different if those crazy childhood dreams had come true.

Written for Pretty Pesky Prompts: "Pretty Pesky Prompts

I never did become a garbage man. Instead, I was a teacher, radiation safety tech, then a Soldier, but I put this under non-fiction because it's what I wanted to be.

I remember as a child, loving our garbage men...or as we are now called, Sanitation Engineers. They were so fun and friendly and I thought they had the greatest job in the world, visiting everyone's homes, not to mention, seeing all the cool stuff they throw out. And then there are the cookies and tips at Christmas. Who wouldn't think this was a dream job.

When I first announced my plans to be a garbage man, never mind I was a girl, my parents smiled and nodded, knowing I'd grow out of it. But I didn't. With twice weekly interactions with these friendly visitors, my love of them, and thus their job, only grew. Finally, as I was approaching my teenage years, I now realize my parents were probably becoming worried. I remember them talking to be about various jobs--Didn't I want to be a teacher? Veterinarians have fun jobs. I could become a scientist, if I wanted. At the time, I didn't think anything about it, but now I realize it was the beginning of their realization that this plan to be a garbage man was more than just a childhood thought. I planned to go through with it and this scared them.

As time progressed, I wasn't always able to visit with my mentors and heroes, but when I did, I soaked up everything they had to tell me from the points of safety to the interesting stories. Finally, my friends all began filling out college applications, but I didn't want to. Mom insisted, so I applied to two schools and got into both. She was thrilled...until I refused to go. I'd also submitted an application to the city's Department of Sanitation. They first turned me down, saying they couldn't hire a high school student for the job because of the hours.

After I graduated, I applied again. Again, I was turned down. I couldn't understand it until one night when in bed thinking. I suddenly realized that every garbage man I knew was just that--a garbage MAN. The following day I marched right back to the Department of Sanitation and told them of my revelation. The man I was speaking to, who would later become my boss, blushed. After some back and forth, we finally agreed that I could do a one month trial, then we would revisit the idea of hiring me.

Mom, virtually distraught by this point, prayed nightly that I'd hate my job or fail at my job or anything to turn me to another career. But I didn't hate it. Admittedly, at first the work was significantly harder than I realized. Getting up at 3 am took a bit of getting used to. The cans were extremely heavy. There were unfriendly people. Then there were the dogs...so many barking dogs. But as the month wore on, I got used to things and settled in to really enjoying my routine, though a little less so on the rainy days. I discovered a whole world of practically brand new things, just tossed out for seemingly no reason. It was a picker's paradise. I also grew to love and respect my co-workers more than ever before.

At the end of the month, while I'm pretty sure my boss wasn't thrilled with the outcome, it was agreed that I'd be hired. Mom actually cried when I told her...and not tears of joy. But I'd finally achieved my dream and I was on top of the world!

Over the years, there have been a lot of changes. I no longer get the tips or the cookies I used to. Though the cookies might not be a safe idea, in any event. People are recycling more and that's wonderful to see, but I truly wish they'd learn what and how to recycle. I continue the tradition of being a friendly garbage man, or now, Sanitation Engineer. I wave and say hello to everyone I see, putting on the broadest smiles for those who dash out with last minute trash as I'm dumping their can. But things are different now. It's not like when I was a child, dreaming of this job, or even like when I first started. But that's not all bad. The job is safer now and we have better equipment.

My family has come to accept my choice of careers. I get paid well and have good benefits. But I've noticed that when my mom introduces my brother, she always tacks on "he's a pilot." When she introduces me, I'm simply her daughter, Jody. I don't regret my choice, but I do wish people didn't look down on me for it. After all, who would haul away their trash if it weren't for me and my friends? What other things could I have done or should I have done with my life? I don't know. But I couldn't imagine doing anything else...except perhaps on the cold, rainy days.

Word Count: 817
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