Spreading the holiday cheer

Spreading the holiday cheer 5.00/5 (100.00%) 1 vote

By Ray Hanania

RayHananiaColumnBoxEach Christmas season, I get up early on garbage pickup day, and wait.

I’m not worried about getting the garbage cans out to the curb. I’m always worried I’ll miss giving the drivers their Christmas gifts when they drive their routes, grabbing and dumping each of the huge containers lined up along the curbs.

They have thankless jobs. We’ve been taught to look down on them. But we shouldn’t. We should thank them. They do the hard work, we take for granted, even if the technology has changed.

Years ago there were three workers on a sanitation truck, and they had to lift the hug cans themselves. Now, there is one driver, and the truck has a mechanical arm that lifts and empties the containers.

Of course, now we also have three trucks. One for garbage. One for recycling. And one for yard waste, three seasons of the year.

(ON a side note. This change was never planned. The garbage can is larger than the recycling can, but these days, recycling is 90 percent of my waste. The recycling can is packed and the garbage can is near empty.)

Recycling truck. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recycling truck. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every year for the past 24 years, the same kid (now a man) has been picking up the garbage at my house in Orland Park. He has one of those jobs where you have to be out there when everyone else is usually enjoying the day off.

We don’t often get a chance to talk. I don’t even remember his name – age has taken a toll on the memory. But he deserves a Happy Holiday greeting, too.

“Merry Christmas,” I yell, the truck noise makes it hard for me to hear myself.

“Merry Christmas,” he yells back, standing in the door of the truck where he manages the controls wearing a red bandana. “I wish I could be home this morning like everyone else.”

“Yea, I know. You guys have the toughest job. This is just a little something to thank you for all you do. I hope you and your family have a great Christmas.” I hand him the gift.

When it’s over, it makes me feel good, because that’s what Christmas is supposed to be all about. Giving. Not taking. Helping others, not being selfish. It shouldn’t be about shopping, sales discounts, or buying the latest high-tech gadgets.

A few minutes later, the recycling driver pulls up to the driveway and I wish him Merry Christmas with a small gift, too.

You should have seen the surprise and smile on their faces. It made my day.

Later today, I’ll catch the mailman. The mailman’s dad used to own a pizza place back when I was a kid in Burbank. His brother was one of my classmates at Reavis High school. They only lived a few blocks away.

When I happen to be home when he delivers the mail, usually on Saturdays, we spend a few minutes remembering “the old days.” It was a better time, I think.

It’s a great feeling, folks. If you are able to give, you should take a moment to think of the people who help make our homes real homes.

Make it your New Year’s resolution to thank the people around you. Not just the ones you work with every day, but the ones you might take for granted. If you can’t give them cash, a simple thank you will do. Because a “thank you” can go a long way.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter. Reach him with your story at [email protected]. Hanania’s columns are syndicated to the Des Plaines Valley News, the Southwest News-Herald Newspaper, the Regional News Newspaper and The Palos Reporter newspaper.)

Ray Hanania

Blogger, Columnist at Illinois News Network Online
Ray Hanania is senior blogger for the Illinois News Network news site. He is an award winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist who covered the beat from 1976 through 1992 (From Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley). And, Hanania is a stubborn and loud critic of the biased mainstream American news media.

In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. He hosted a live weekend Radio Show on WLS AM radio from 1980 through 1991, and also on WBBM FM, WLUP FM and shows on WSBC AM in Chicago and WNZK AM in Detroit.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. He currently is syndicated through Creators Syndicate. He has written for the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star of Lebanon, the News of the World in London, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, The Saudi Gazette, the Arab News in Jeddah, and Aramco Magazine.

Hanania's Chicagoland political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald, the Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News and the Palos Reporter newspapers.

Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

His personal website is www.TheMediaOasis.com. Email him at: [email protected]