puzzle pieces

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Trash Talk

We have become masters of categorizing people.

From our youth we put people in groups.

Rewind: school...
(and forgive me, because I will probably use all wrong terms for this present day, but for me school was 30 years ago!).
We had the preps, the jocks, the head bangers, the brains/nerds....
Cool people, artsy people, popular people, and the misfits and loners.

It never really stopped.
We "grew up" and we shoved people into yet more boxes.

Grouped by wealth, colour, which side of the tracks you live on, whether you have a degree or you are a "mere physiotherapy aid"....it never ends.

We all do it.

I had a great deal of time to think this Saturday.
I volunteered to pick up garbage for the fair starting at 6am and working until 2pm...
8 hours of non-stop walking and picking up all types of trash- (which in itself is an entirely whole other post!)...

I found it very humbling to don the green staff shirt, armed with a trash picker stick, blue rubber gloves and carrying a massive black garbage bag blowing in the gale wind until it was semi full- wandering around with eyes peeled to the ground looking for any scrap of paper, cigarette butt, or half eaten candy apple melting into the pavement.

The first few hours the grounds were empty, and the amount of garbage left from the night before filled our bags quickly.
And then, when it seemed the grounds looked void of all refuse- the crowds slowly trickled in.

Maybe it was because I found myself almost embarrassed to be "Just" a garbage picker, but it was humbling for me.
And sadly, I DID feel this way- judging myself to be the lowest of the low.

{Category: trash collector. I mean, how glorifying was it to pick up a soggy dropped diaper (2 feet from a trash can I might add), with a trash stick, trying to maneuver it into a blowing garbage bag without it touching me in any way?}

Then came the comments.
Some were grateful, thanking me for picking up their trash.
One man actually bowed and tipped his hat, all the while telling me how appreciative he was and that I shouldn't ever let anyone tell me I wasn't doing important work.

And then there was the derogatory.
"How degrading- she has to go around all day picking up people's garbage."
"You think our job is bad, imagine doing that all day?"

And on it went- back and forth.

Interesting enough, none of these comments upset me or had me wanting to go hide.
It did however make me think even more.

We don't know people's backstories;
Where did they come from?
Where are they going?
Why are they doing what they do?

Instead- we put people into boxes, and they remain there because we assume.
We assume the worst.
The least favourable.
We don't have compassion- we just categorize.

We trash talk those who may have been just wanting to help in any way they could.
We trash talk those who seem to be in a "lower" category than ourselves, not knowing why they may have even chosen where they are and what they do.
We jump the gun on individuals because we truly believe what WE have chosen is better than the path they may be wandering down.

It's all so wrong.

It hit me as I carried the last bag of garbage to the bin and removed the bright blue gloves at the end of my  8 hour shift - just how all of us are guilty of not realizing we all have a story.
And that even if we never know what their story is, we ALL fit into the same Category of:


{Give a wealthy, educated, good-looking man/woman a garbage bag and trash stick with bright blue rubber gloves, and guess what- still human and the same person as before.}

Trash them.
And then please....                        
                       ....pick up your garbage.


No comments: