Friday, November 30, 2012
The Trashman Cometh
As I was driving back to my hotel in the Buckhead section of Atlanta this morning, having just had breakfast with a good friend, I noticed a curious sight. There was a woman with a plastic garbage bag trying to pick up a ton of garbage - mostly papers - that was strewn along a stretch of perhaps 200 yards in front of a condominium complex. It appeared that the papers must have somehow come out of someone's garbage or perhaps a garbage truck. As I drove past, I thought that maybe I should stop and help, but I was beyond the spot so quickly that it seemed to be too late. I went another half-mile or so, thinking about the situation, and decided I should turn around and go back to help. So I found a place to turn around, went back to the complex, and found a place to park.
I walked out to where the woman was working and asked if she had another garbage bag. She explained that "they" were supposed to be sending a few more people with additional garbage bags to help, but that her office hadn't come through yet. I had the sense that she may have worked for the company that ran the condo association. It seems that some bags of trash may have fallen off a truck, and most of it involved some legal papers, so it was pretty important to get them collected.
I began picking up papers and before long, the woman and I had gotten it pretty much taken care of. I introduced myself and learned that her name was Elizabeth. She was very appreciative of my help, and I think she thought I was one of the residents of the complex. I never did tell her that I was just a complete stranger driving by and figured I could help.
As I got back in my car and resumed my trip back to the hotel, I noticed how good I felt from having responded to a need I saw rather than simply noticing it and driving by. There really is something to the notion that there's an intrinsic high we get from helping others. And I love these types of quiet, anonymous ones. Elizabeth will never know who I am, or even why I stopped to help, and none of the residents of the complex will ever know either. But I know I put a little extra kindness into the world this morning; and how cool would it be if we all capitalized on these opportunities as we see them?