I heard the most beautiful story in my car this morning. Do you ever listen to StoryCorps on Fridays? It's my favorite Friday feature on NPR's Morning Edition, and this one made me reach for the Kleenex. You can read the complete transcript here, or treat yourself with a click on Listen to the Story over at the transcript site, and hear Angelo and Eddie tell the story themselves in their fabulous New York accents.
If you're in a hurry, I'll share the gist. Angelo and Eddie were garbage men in Manhattan, partners in work for years and years. Angelo has retired, and they got together to talk about their work and Angelo's retirement.
Here's a couple of bits from their story:
"Everybody would just come out just to talk to you," Nieves, 55, said to Bruno when they visited a StoryCorps booth recently.
People along their route in Manhattan's West Village neighborhood would greet the two and offer them coffee or breakfast, Bruno said. And nuns on their route would kiss them.
"The younger guys would ask me, 'How did you get that?' It's just a little good morning, have a nice weekend. Hey, you look great today," Bruno said. "I could do 14 tons of garbage — I can't lift a baby carriage off a step and carry it down? Or hold someone's baby when they went to get their car?"
"When I first came on the job, there was one old timer ... I remember Gordy Flow his name was. One day, he stopped the truck. He tells me, 'Angelo, you look down this block first. See all the sidewalks are all crowded up with garbage?' So I think nothing of it. My father always told me to respect my elders. I get to the end of the block, and he stops me again. 'Get out of the truck, look back. Nice and clean right? People could walk on the sidewalk. Guys can make deliveries. Be proud of yourself,' " Bruno explained.The story ends with Angelo's retelling of his last day of work, how the people in the neighborhoods cried, how he cried, and how all that crying made Eddie cry. Eddie says that after years of taking the same vacations and days off, and working side by side, they dearly miss each other.
Angelo answers, "I feel the same way, Eddie. I'll be honest with you — I miss it terribly. I'm like the little kid looking out the window now when I hear the truck. I think I could have done another 31 years."
Wouldn't you love to always feel this way about the work you spend your days doing? As if it's holy, a God given opportunity to make your corner of the world a better place. I guess that's exactly what work is, no matter whether we're cleaning up baby spit-up at home, crafting or writing or teaching or lawyering. Or collecting garbage on the streets of Manhattan.
I need to remember that.
That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God.
Have a wonder-full weekend, y'all!
And thanks again, thank you, thank you, for your kind birthday wishes! You all are so special to me! I'm sending you hugs and kisses!
*Photo by StoryCorps