This past weekend, I was at Bethany Beach and realized that the garbage men hadn’t picked up our garbage. However, they seemed to have picked up everyone else’s. It was frustrating, but then I saw the trash company’s supervisor slowly drive down our street. When I told him that they hadn’t picked up our trash, he politely, but very matter-of-factly said “you used the wrong trash can.” He went on to explain that 1) the trash can was from a competitor so they couldn’t pick it up and 2) light-colored lids (ours is yellow) signify recycling whereas darker colors are for trash. He then very graciously told me to throw my trash bags in the back of his pickup, and he would put them on the trash truck when he caught up to them.
Why am I telling you about my trash issues? First, the supervisor was just a really nice guy, who took the time to talk to me. He could have just told me that I used the wrong trash can and left it at that. But he didn’t. He not only took the time to explain, but then he solved my problem by taking the trash himself. And I should also mention that it was Memorial Day and while I was on vacation, he was working. When I mentioned that hopefully he got to enjoy a holiday later in the week, he just laughed and indicated that it did not work like that.
Second, at the same time as I was dealing with my trash, I was thinking about aging as my oldest graduates from high school next week. I’m reading a novel where one of the main characters, who was feeling her age thought to herself “You couldn’t be old and still be wrong about as many things as she’d been wrong about.” Sometimes I forget that aging is not just about the pains in my joints, but potentially the lack of opportunities to learn new things.
I’m sure that many of you, like me, start to feel old from time to time. But if the criteria for aging is knowing everything, then I’m a young man. If I keep engaging, listening, and staying curious, I’ll stay young for a long time. Whether it’s how AI will impact our lives or how garbage is collected, I’ve still got a lot to learn.
Take care and stay safe.
Small Mercies by Dennis Lehane
In the summer of 1974, a heatwave blankets Boston and Mary Pat Fennessy is trying to stay one step ahead of the bill collectors. Mary Pat has lived her entire life in the housing projects of “Southie,” the Irish American enclave that stubbornly adheres to old tradition and stands proudly apart.
One night Mary Pat’s teenage daughter Jules stays out late and doesn’t come home. That same evening, a young Black man is found dead, struck by a subway train under mysterious circumstances.
The two events seem unconnected. But Mary Pat, propelled by a desperate search for her missing daughter, begins turning over stones best left untouched—asking questions that bother Marty Butler, chieftain of the Irish mob, and the men who work for him, men who don’t take kindly to any threat to their business.
Set against the hot, tumultuous months when the city’s desegregation of its public schools exploded in violence, Small Mercies is a superb thriller, a brutal depiction of criminality and power, and an unflinching portrait of the dark heart of American racism.