Monday, October 4, 2010

One day I unexpectedly realized my mom was quite the humanitarian. I'm guessing this was about 20 years ago.
If I was in the neighborhood, I would pop in unannounced to say hi to my mom. This particular day was like most, mom was sitting in her usual chair by the window, keeping an eye on the neighborhood with one eye, while watching judge Judy with the other. Mom was like the Governor of the block. She new every one and all their business. That was her job, or so she thought. Hey, it kept her out of trouble.
When I arrived that day, I did what I did every time I walked in that front door. I would walk over to her and give her a kiss and then proceed to the kitchen while saying over my shoulder, "Yeah mom, everything's good, how are you. Yes, the girls are good......" and then I would open the refrigerator door and stand there scanning the items like I did as a child, looking for something to eat. Most times I wasn't even hungry or thirsty, but there's just something special about mom's refrigerator, it used to draw me like a magnet. I was an adult. I had my own refrigerator full of goodies, but I just had to check out that fridge every time I arrived there.
So, on this particular day, I was with mom chatting about this and that and I noticed she was a bit preoccupied. She kept glancing out the window as if she was expecting Santa Clause or something.
And then, as I was in mid sentence she suddenly hops up and scurries into the kitchen. As she hustles back through the dinning room and living room, she's making a bee-line for the front door carrying 3 cans of beer and wearing a combination smirk/smile on her face.
"What the hell" I say to myself as I got up and peered out the window. What I saw was my mother giving the 3 trash men beers. She chats a minute with them and I saw them smiling and thanking her profusely. When they finish emptying our trash cans into their truck, I noticed they walked the empty cans all the way to the back of the house where we kept them, instead of leaving them on the front curb.
At this point my mom comes back in the front door with that strange grin on her face again. I'm staring at her totally confused.
When I asked her what that was all about, she said, "Yeah, I give them each a beer every week, and they take my cans to the back yard." She says this with a bit of pride, smiling, like she just discovered the earth wasn't flat or something. When she motions for me to look out the window, there on our front lawn, are the 3 trash men sitting under our maple tree sipping on a cold beer. The fact that it was 10 in the morning didn't seem to faze anyone but me.
"Mom," I said totally astonished, "how long have you been doing this?" She answered, "ever since Grandpop died."
My Grandpop spent the last years of his rambunctious life living with us. He started the weekly humanitarian gesture of giving beer to the trash men, probably just for something to do.
When he died, my mom thought she better carry on with the tradition.
The day I found out this information, my Grandpop had been dead, probably for over 20 years!
She then informed me, that if she was busy doing something and didn't notice the trash men had arrived, they would, when they were finished, knock on her front door to let her know they were there, at which point she would scurry to the kitchen to fetch 3 beers. Only in suburbia I tell you.
I always wondered why my mom, who never drank beer, always had beer in the refrigerator. I assumed it was in case I stopped by. Wrong.
A few years after that, I stopped by again. I gave her a kiss, checked out the fridge and sat down.
With that same smirk/smile she handed me a piece of paper. It was a letter from the sanitation office. Very nicely they asked if she could please stop giving the sanitation employees beer while on the job. It seems it was against company policy.
How funny is that?

Disclaimer #1- In case any of my siblings read this, the time and years may be disputed. What I do know is for over 20 years she gave the trash men beer on a weekly basis.

Disclaimer #2- I know it is politically incorrect to call hard working sanitation workers trash men. But while growing up in the 50's, 60's and 70's they were know in our household as trash man. No offense intended.


Janney said...

That's cool. Until he died in 98, my dad used to give the rubbish men and postie giftwrapped chocolates at christmas. I've wondered if I should continue the tradition...

slommler said...

Well in this case..they are men!! Ha!
Gave them beer huh? That is so cool!!
I find that as we get older, we appreciate our moms and dads so much more. Ha! And I still look in my mom's fridge too!!

beth said...

what a great story !!!

my girlfriend gives the garbage men cases of beer for their christmas presents....

maybe you could do that to carry on the tradition...but in a way that the company allows :)

sheesh...that sounded like it came from a girl who follows the rules.

Formerly known as Frau said...

Great story I hope they still take her cans back has a good will gesture!

Karen said...

We used to call them garbage men. My dad would leave them a case of beer now and then, too. I wonder who ratted out the three men your mom looked after.

Funny about the refrigerator scanning. My mom never had anything extra interesting in there, just the necessities for making meals..and fruit. I am the cook, so now she scans MY refrigerator.

However I do find myself standing in front of my own refrigerator when I'm no where near hungry or thirsty... and I have to scold myself repeatedly to stop eating out of boredom, cause that's what it is, honestly. *sigh*

Jerral Miles said...

...perfect... and I suspect even more wonderful from the point of view of a man a quarter of a century older than you. I think I'm in love with your Mother. Don't tell your siblings.

dcpeg said...

Your story warmed my heart! So nice to know others notice these unsung heroes in our lives!

Marilyn said...

So funny! Your mom knew how to get good service for a very long time.

Alison said...

Great post Mark. Heartwarming!

Dan Kent said...

Great story! Great mom! Great that it took them 20 years to ask her to stop! lol