A thank you note to garbage men
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I was sitting eating lunch quietly in Nando’s when I noticed a garbage truck pull up out the front. A man, sweating in a high vis vest, walked up to the public bin, emptied it and added a new bin liner before moving up the street to the next one.
It made me think how lucky we are that someone actually wants to take on that job. It’s a thankless job in which, I can only imagine, has some less than desirable moments. It’s not innovative or creative but it’s necessary.
This instance reminded me of something I had heard in a talk from Rory Sutherland, creative director of OgilvyOne. He breaks down what contributes to a positive experience of dining in a restaurant. Specifically he talks about how the staff member cleaning the floor is contributing equally to the experience as the chef.
It may sound ridiculous if you contrast the qualifications and pay scale of the two, but the concept is pretty simple. If a chef serves you a good meal in a dirty restaurant it can be just as negative as a poor meal in a clean restaurant. If you cut either one, a restaurant will surely fail.
It’s a good lesson in empathy, understanding that the consumer will be affected emotionally both by the environment they eat the meal and the quality of the meal itself. It also teaches us to value everyone’s position that contributes to the overall experience, whether in a restaurant or just in life, because their worth may actually be a lot more than the economically perceived value.
At a time when racism and elitism seems to be rampant, receiving a significant amount of media attention, empathy needs more focus to help us see the world through others eyes and realise the true value of every human being.
I think now is as good a time as any to give a shoutout to garbage men. You are some of societies unsung heroes. Thank you.