Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Law of the Garbage Truck

Over time, man has fabricated many laws. There's Murphy's law (if anything can go wrong, it will), then there is Parkinson's Law (work expands to fill the time available), etc., and of course, there's the in-laws. Oops! But this one law here, is most useful in our everyday life, and that is

LAW OF THE GARBAGE TRUCK - Let the garbage go by…
By David J. Pollay

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, and I mean without warning, 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.

Here's what happened next. 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. How do I know? Ask any New Yorker, some words in New York come with a special face.

Now, here's what blew me away. 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. I guarantee it.

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: at work, at home, on the streets? It was that day I said, "I'm not going to do it anymore."

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 I move on.
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?

Here's my bet. You'll be happier. I guarantee it.

Source: via email


  1. Hi The Happy Surfer.

    Very true, I think I’ve been practising this for years and years.

    Caution is needed though for when I receive a load of abuse I wave and smile back and they think I’m taking the ‘Micky’ and it just infuriates them more.

    Another that worked for me. If I was up in front of my ‘Boss’ getting a rollicking for some misdemeanour I would imagine them sitting there as if they were sitting on the Loo or sitting there naked.

  2. And thus, you became forever known as The Happysurfer...

    It's so difficult...

  3. Anonymous10:29 PM

    That is a great story. Sh-t! I just remembered I dumped a whole load of garbage on my assistant. Let me reverse and take it back. :D

  4. A similar advice we can learn is: don't bite the dog that bites you!

  5. Hi Mick! Very wise and too cool, the last para. I should do that too but may not be able to hold on to a straight face. lol

    LB, I agree, it is difficult coz we are only human. Being human, the Happysurfer too feel the pain, learn the lesson and move on.

  6. Andie, glad you enjoyed it. Thank goodness for the reverse gear, eh?

    KS, especially if it's rabid?!