I Want To Be A Garbage Truck Man When I Grow Up

Growing up, I wanted to be a garbage truck man. Not a garbage truck driver mind you. THE MAN. The one hanging on for dear life on the rear of the trash dispenser truck as it perilously weaves in and out of neighborhoods. Like the Indiana Jones of city workers. The man who hops off when the truck stops and heaves buckets of mysterious waste into the mouth of a massive trash transformer.

When I was eight years old my dad would ask me.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Some kids say Astronaut. Or Michael Jordan. Or President.

I said half jokingly (I was a sarcastic turd back then too), “A Garbage Truck Man.”

And he would say without missing a beat, “Be the best garbage truck man you can be then.”

Even if I was being a bit tongue in cheek, there was a curious draw to that ancient occupation. The risk of falling off into oncoming traffic any moment. The adventure of the open road ever winding before you. The weighty obligation of rummaging through a whole city’s secret junk. The wind and sun and elements falling on your face and running through your hair.

We had a basketball goal at the end of our neighborhood cul de sac. If we were playing a pickup game the Garbage truck man would sometimes stop a moment and substitute himself in. We’d feed him the rock and he’d drive the lane and throw down a highlight reel dunk. With his jeans and work boots on. And then he’d walk away and hop back on his truck. Like a boss. It was only a 9 foot goal but that was big deal to 9 year olds.

I’ve been a public high school educator and coach for five years now.

I enjoy it.

That being said, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

It’s easy to get caught in the perilous mental trap that conflates who we are with what we do. Success is found in titles, numbers, grades, stats, and bank accounts. We find our worth in our works. This is our born default, and if we’re not careful, our every morning default. “I do this = I am this” is the modern equation of personal identity.

The gospel offers a totally different approach to our fallen math.

Christ did this with his person and work, and based only that, we are now beloved adopted children. Our highest identity is purchased by another. What He did makes us who we are. Our doing was no variable in the equation. At all.

He did this=I am this now. It’s simple beautiful math.

Who knows: I may be an educator, astronaut, coach, doctor, or garbage truck man when I grow up.

Doesn’t really matter.

I know what He’s done.

I know who I am.

Bryan Daniels


Author: Bryan Daniels

I am a follower of Jesus, a husband to Jessica, and a father of three boys: Josiah, Gideon and Judah. I teach high school math as a job, read reformed theology as a hobby, and write this blog just for kicks. With the rest of my time I coach football and track.

6 thoughts on “I Want To Be A Garbage Truck Man When I Grow Up”

  1. Bryan. Considered a lowly job, but Christ did say the least will become the greatest. I try to not forget them in hot weather with a cold drink or water (I;m sure they have some on the truck, but that is not what counts), at Christmas, and just everyday…. with a smile and a loud hello and thanks. They are good and faithful servants. Daredevils too

    1. No doubt! That’s an awsome way to serve them. Hope it doesn’t come off like I’m downplaying the role of sanitation and waste workers. I definitely appreciate their work!

  2. And whatsoever you do in word or deed to all in the name of the Lord Jesus! Colossians 3:17. Your dad had the right perspective. Whatever you choose be the best you you can be!

  3. I can completely see an 8-year-old wanting to be a garbage truck man. You’re outside doing something physical as opposed to stuck at a desk all day…at least, that’s what office work looked like to me at that age! It’s an honest day’s work.

    Seriously, though, I’ve been through the whole “define myself by my job” thing and, when things didn’t turn out as planned, had no idea who else I was. I wrote about this in my own blog…thank you for reminding us that it’s not about who we are to the world as it is to who we are in Christ. Now, if I could only *remember* that…

    Thanks for your writing.You help a lot of people, which is what we need more of in the world.

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