Ode to Waste Management

I recently finished reading a book called “1000 Gifts,” in which author Ann Voskamp describes the process of recording 1000 things that she had to be thankful for, and how by doing so she saw God more clearly. As I begin that journey in my own life, I am hard-pressed to overlook the gift that is my dad’s job at Waste Management. Although I can attest it is not the best nor the easiest one to have – and as I write this my family finds itself in the midst of a time where this work’s negatives seem to outweigh the positives- it has provided us with so very much, intangible and otherwise.

That’s why I have to decided to “spit in the eye of the devil” (as mom likes to say) and write an ode to Waste Management-not only to keep things in perspective and to remind my parents that their hard work means an awful lot, but also to praise the God from whom all blessings flow.

Is it selfish for me to feel this way, not knowing the real nitty-gritty of the all-day every day, the stench, the foul, the dark? Perhaps, and if I’m wrong than I will atone. But for right now with rose-colored glasses- no, the vision of a life enriched, thankful for the gifts and the sacrifice- I thank you, Waste Management.


On dark days with crabby bosses and creaky trucks and rude pedestrians, I know that it’s easy to look at Waste Management and focus on the first word- “waste”- and feel that right there really sums it up.

I understand, if only a little bit, why it can be so easy to see that company as something as dirty as the trash is exists to, well, manage. Dad has plenty of reasons to. Yet conversely, I have just as much cause to see it as a bit of treasure. In my eyes, its significance is overwhelming.

It means having daddy present- there. For sledding adventures, snow fort building on wintry afternoons, four wheeling extravaganzas in the muddy marsh, trips to Maine on school nights, and scary movies lit up by the fireplace glow. It means two parents in the stands of every game, meet, speech, performance, or conference. It always felt remarkably good to know that even though my father had only gotten three hours of sleep the night before, he showed up, while all those other dads skipped in favor of a round of golf. Thank you, Waste Management.

It means having daddy present- there there. No Bluetooth or paperwork, late night meetings, bad suits or business lunches. Never have I ever heard “maybe laters” that were work related, or had dad skip a meal because he was held up at the office. Thank you, Waste Management.

It means having a mommy able to stay home and teach us, and love us, and help us- another sacrifice- but one that has changed my life and my sisters’ lives permanently, eternally. It means “how was your day today, Courtney?” at the bus stop, it means, “Mom, I forgot my sneakers,” it means laundry and a clean house and most importantly, “I love you. Let’s talk.” I hate to cheapen mom’s work with these mundane examples; it goes beyond words and touches the heart, unspeakable.Thank you, Waste Management.

It means a roof over my head, heat in the winter and AC when it’s blazing, water and plumbing and electricity and bonus! TIVO so I can watch SNL reruns on Sunday afternoons. I consider those lovely unnecessaries, too many to count. Thank you, Waste Management.

It means a big yellow dog, a best friend with fur- Angus. Because of his influence, we got two other (littler) friends so he wouldn’t be lonely. Thank you, Waste Management.

It means vacations and precious times together as five- or two, on those six-grade weekends when school dances were, for me, date night with dad and “Return of the King” three times in theatres. Thank you, Waste Management.

It means humility with skin on; knowing that the people who sweep floors and serve fries and pick up unmentionables are human too, because dad’s one of them. It means loving others better, controlling pretension, understanding people with greater depth, being grounded. Thank you, Waste Management.

It means understanding sacrifice- my father’s, my mother’s-and how giving up the good often makes way for the very best. Thank you, Waste Management.

It means knowing that God is the true provider; that He is enough and His timing, although frequently confusing, is perfect and true. Thank you, Waste Management.

It means a family whole, happy, full.

Thank you, Waste Management.


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