Let’s all be a Russ today!

Blogging is great fun. Sometimes I muse over what to write about. Other times topics pop me right upside the head.

And heart.

Take Thursday morning for example – garbage and recycling day on the Point in East Grand Forks.

I had our receptacles ready to go and lined up on the back sidewalk, but it was still early so I felt I had time for a quick bike ride before rolling them out front. Off I rode on my new yellow Trek for a 20 minute spin on the bike path.

As I returned to my neighborhood I heard the garbage truck in the distance. I got to my street just in time to see the truck pass my house and stop at Larry the Neighbor Guy’s house.

Rats! I missed the truck.

I quickly biked down the alley, jumped off, and grabbed the handle of the receptacle. As I came around the corner of the house I spotted Shannon from across the way leaving for work. “Can I borrow your side of the street,” I asked. “But of course,” she answered.

So I rolled my container over next to hers, went back in the house and made myself a cup of coffee.

I stood inside my front door with my coffee cup watching for when the garbage truck returned. When it had passed on the other side, I would go right out and retrieve my receptacle. Soon the truck did return, stopping at Shannon’s. Its mechanical arms picked up my receptacle, emptied it, and set it back down. Then it moved a few feet to Shannon’s, picked it up, emptied it and set it back down.

But then, the truck didn’t move on.

Next thing I see – the driver gets out of his big green and white truck, takes the handle of my receptacle and proceeds to roll is across the street and up my front sidewalk.

I walk out in my socks with coffee cup in hand. “You are too nice,” I said to the man. “Did you notice I didn’t have my container in front of my house?”

“No,” he answered, “I didn’t notice that, but I noticed an extra one across the street. Then I saw you standing in your door.”

Once again I insisted, “You are just too nice. Thank you. Thank you.”

I was very touched by his random act of kindness and we parted with him calling out, “You have a nice day.”

Back in the house it dawned on me that I hadn’t asked his name. I should let his boss know of his gesture. He should have a raise.

I dialed East Grand Forks Streets and Sanitation and told the story to a Mr. Kovar. He agreed that a very nice thing had just happened but he didn’t know the driver’s name because the driver works for Waste Management not the City of EGF.

Mr. Kovar gave me Waste Management’s phone number but before I could dial it I was struck with an idea. The driver couldn’t be far away and my trusty Trek was just out back.

I grabbed a pen, a pad and my camera and placed them in the basket, mounted my bike and took off, finding the truck on the next block. I rode up beside it waving like crazy. Next thing I knew, the very pleasant man was out of his truck and we were chatting on the street.

Let me introduce Russ Troemner who has worked for Waste Management since 1997. He was born in Wisconsin and lived much of his life in Florida. He came to this area in 1994 to visit a friend who just happened to have a sister. He and that sister fell in love and got married. Her name is Grace, who was from Grafton, N.D. They are now the parents of three children.

Russ told me he really enjoys his job and he absolutely loves to do what he had done for me. I could see the truth to his words in the sincerity of his eyes and the humbleness of his expressive smile. He surely started my day out beautifully and I’ll bet I’m not the only one he’s touched along his truck route.

A lot is being said these days about being kind to others. The day before this happened, the Herald ran a front page story about a presentation at Central Middle School in East Grand Forks, which stressed to students how much small acts of kindness impacts the lives of others.

Russ’ very special act of thoughtfulness surely impacted me. I want to emulate him, today and every day.

Until Soon

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