The Law of The Garbage Truck

Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
July 14, 2000

How often do you let other people’s nonsense change your mood? Do you let a bad driver, rude waiter, curt boss, or an insensitive employee ruin your day? Unless you’re the Terminator, for an instant you’re probably set back on your heels. However, the mark of a successful person is how quickly she can get back her focus on what’s important.

Sixteen years ago I learned this lesson. I learned it in the back of a New York City taxi cab. Here’s what happened. I hopped in a taxi, and we took off for Grand Central Station. We were driving in the right lane when, all of a sudden, a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, skidded, and missed the other car’s back end by just inches!

The driver of the other car, the guy who almost caused a big accident, whipped his head around and he started yelling bad words at us. My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean, he was friendly. So, I said, “Why did you just do that? This guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital!” And this is when my taxi driver told me what I now call, “The Law of the Garbage Truck.”

Many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it. And if you let them, they’ll dump it on you. When someone wants to dump on you, don’t take it personally. You just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. You’ll be happy you did.

So this was it: The “Law of the Garbage Truck.” I started thinking, how often do I let Garbage Trucks run right over me? And how often do I take their garbage and spread it to other people a work, at home, on the streets? It was that day I said, “I’m not going to do anymore.” I began to see garbage trucks.

Like in the movie “The Sixth Sense,” the little boy said, “I see Dead People.” Well, now “I see Garbage Trucks.” I see the load they’re carrying. I see them coming to drop it off. And like my Taxi Driver, I don’t make it a personal thing; I just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on.

One of my favorite football players of all time, Walter Payton, did this every day on the football field. He would jump up as quickly as he hit the ground after being tackled. He never dwelled on a hit. Payton was ready to make the next play his best.

Good leaders know they have to be ready for their next meeting. Good parents know that they have to welcome their children home from school with hugs and kisses. Leaders and parents know that they have to be fully present, and at their best for the people they care about. The bottom line is that successful people do not let Garbage Trucks take over their day. What about you? What would happen in your life, starting today, if you let more garbage trucks pass you by?

Author - David Pollay
  1. Loving others under all adverse conditions is only possible by the FULL power of the Holy Spirit…
    Jesus tells us this in…

    Mathew 5:43-44… “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, (NKJV)

    Blessings in Christ, bruce


  2. JD Blom said:

    Reblogged this on A DEVOTED LIFE and commented:
    I see garbage truck people; great perspective


  3. And it is also important for me not to BE a garbage truck. I love it and will remember the law of the garbage truck. Have been reading John Piper’s Christian Hedonism.

    “My shortest summary of Christian Hedonism is: God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. We all make a god out of what we take the most pleasure in. Christian Hedonists want to make God their God by seeking after the greatest pleasure—pleasure in him. By Christian Hedonism, we do not mean that our happiness is the highest good. We mean that pursuing the highest good will always result in our greatest happiness in the end. We should pursue this happiness, and pursue it with all our might. The desire to be happy is a proper motive for every good deed, and if you abandon the pursuit of your own joy you cannot love man or please God.”

    Thought this was in the same vein. Thanks for sharing this.


  4. Reminds us that what goes in is what comes out – it’s SO important to nourish ourselves on Christ and God’s Word – lest we become ‘garbage truck people’. Thanks for sharing this JD.


  5. lorieb said:

    Reblogged this on LORIEB and commented:
    I love this story!


  6. thenakedtruth2 said:

    well played


  7. Paula Cummings said:

    Great thought – I’ll remember that. 🙂


  8. What a great image to help us remember to keep our cool! Just let the garbage fall to the ground and stay there–no need to pick it up and carry it around in the form of frustration or anger. And especially no need to throw it on someone else! Thanks, Kenny, for another great post. Pretty soon you’ll have us all cleaned up, what with all this beneficial input!!


    • Thanks for the comment!!! And if you liked this story, wait till you see tomorrows MS&D!!! LOL

      Take Care and God bless 🙂 Kenny T


  9. Reblogged this on Insight From A Woman's Heart and commented:
    Be an atmosphere changer. I think I have just added another tool to my life skills toolbox. I really enjoyed this post and I think you will too! Have a great day!


  10. Beth said:

    Reblogged this on picturingpositive and commented:
    What an awesome perspective! This taxi driver has a wonderfully unique outlook and one that I’m going to try to adopt myself! Wonderful post!!


  11. Reblogged this on colouryourdream and commented:
    I think it is a fantastic article – worth posting it and reading it!
    Ask yourself the question after you read the article: are you a garbage truck?


  12. I try to remember that dead people stink – they can’t help it. Extending grace becomes much easier when I remember this! 🙂



  13. Thank you for ‘liking’ the photo of Bailey. I loved this article, there are a lot of garbage trucks in this world. Have re-tweeted it


  14. Very, very nice… And makes the Law of the Garbage Truck even better is that many of them run on (cleaner) natural gas! 🙂


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