I remember that day vividly. The scorching Houston summer heat bore down upon us and I had to double up the butt towel patrol to protect my truck's seats from the sea of saltiness whooshing out of me. As we drove onto the main street that runs through our neighborhood I could clearly see the trash guys struggling to lift the heavy receptacles at the curb. The two kept taking turns tugging trash cans to the truck while the other stood still, hands on his knees, beet red and panting for air. How I pitied these men and wanted to help ease their burdens.......oh alright, my heart doesn't exactly circulate blood filled with purely altruistic motives. The truth is that at that point I had two kids still in diapers. I knew that it was imperative to keep these guys from dropping with a severe case of heat stroke because that would mean we'd be stuck with the rancid bag of crappy diapers festering in the garage for another week. And then I remembered the box of Fruity Popsicles we just bought at Kroger's.........
I pulled over and got out with the open box of Popsicles to offer to the trash guys. I intended for them to select whatever flavor they wanted because everyone should have their free agency; even in Popsicle flavor selection. Besides I wasn't quite sure of proper cultural etiquette. Gifting a fruity purple Popsicle to an hombre from a Spanish speaking country might be construed as an insult to his manhood and I desperately wanted to avoid that. Both men smiled at me and I was delighted to discover that the language of frozen yumminess on a stick is Universal and requires no words which is lucky since my High School Spanish teacher, Senora Cottle, never taught us the right phrase to use when approaching strange men on the street and offering up our goodies.
The one guy plucked the entire Popsicle box out of my hand. I guess his mamacita never warned him of the dangers of accepting ice cream from strangers. So, I stood there waiting for them to make their selection and give me back the box. They didn't. Instead, the men took the box to the driver which I thought was a really sweet gesture........and then they waved at me while yelling GRACIAS! and took off leaving me Popsicle-less and with a truck full of cheesed-off mini-Infidels. They kept bugging me asking why I didn't give the trash guys something else other than their beloved Popsicles. I tried to reason that waving around a bag full of zucchini or a box of Frosted Flakes cereal might have made the moment a bit confusing for all parties involved. I didn't let the garbage guys get away with it, though. No, I silently cursed them that they would become cross-eyed from an insanely painful bout of brain freeze.
Launch Charitable Effort Round Two:
I'm a slow learner. Later that same year we had a precipitous drop in temperature around Christmas with freezing drizzles of rain showing up at mid-day. By then we had a different team of trash guys. I don't know maybe they have a trash guy time share condo somewhere that the first group gets to enjoy in the winter along with their absconded Popsicle bounty. I watched as the trash truck mosied slowly up the street. The lone garbage picker-upper guy was wearing only a faded blue tank-top despite the harsh weather conditions. I tried to squash that naggy still small voice in my head advocating that I take immediate action in helping this fellow child of God. I lost. Really, what could I do? I ran to get one of Papi's super warm hooded sweatshirts to give to the shivering trash guy. You know what? He happily took it. Then he shook the sweatshirt out and turned it over as he held it up in the air examining it. My moment basking in the glow of charitable goodness was fleeting as he then walked up to the cab of the trash truck and threw the sweatshirt inside. With a big smile and a hearty GRACIAS! the truck lurched forward, rounded the corner, and disappeared out of sight with the tank-top guy holding onto the back rails while still shivering.
I sincerely hope that someone, somewhere recorded these moments into The Book Of Life. I'm sure that I should be able to gain some leeway for my many transgressions due to my selfless act of keeping the seat of a trash truck toasty and warm on a bitterly cold winter's day.