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My Dad, The Garbologist
Thinking of My Late Dad This Father’s Day
I t was the bottom of the ninth inning, and our little league team, the Bombers, had two outs. Trailing our opponents — the all-stars from the entire rest of the league — by one run, with a single runner on first base, we needed a clutch play to have any hope of winning the game. My dad was the head coach, but he did not seem as nervous as the rest of us. One of our best hitters was up next to bat, but my dad noticed that a kid on our team sitting on the bench had not yet gotten a chance to play. He was one of our worst hitters, but my dad was adamant about letting each of us get a swing at the ball. So, to the kid’s and everybody else’s surprise, my dad handed him a bat, gave him a pat on the back, and told him to “go get ’em.” The kid ended up striking out, but he made sure to thank my dad for giving him a shot. My dad was an outgoing guy, quick to crack a joke and put others at ease. His uncommon empathy and emotional intelligence made him generous with his time and attention, helping wherever he could. Whatever he set his mind to, he did with complete and total enthusiasm. His eagerness to do his best in every situation was evident in his job working for the New York City Sanitation Department on a garbage truck. He told me he was a “garbologist.” Though it was a dirty,
thankless job, my dad took pride in his work. He performed
his duties with dedication and
cheerfulness, taking every opportunity to chat with the locals along his route to make sure they felt he and his crew were doing a good job for them. Over time, he gained quite a reputation, and eventually, he even got a few awards from the Sanitation Department in recognition of his efforts. Once, a garbage truck actually ran over his foot, but he did not let even that get him down. He recovered and returned to the job with even greater dedication. Despite his physically demanding work, he was always there for me and the rest of my family. I remember walking with him to the park for batting practice and him putting his arm over my shoulder as we walked. Of course, at that age I thought I was way too cool for my dad to do that with me and I brushed him off. Now I realize it was just another indicator of how kind and invested in his kids he was. Growing up in the Bronx, my dad did not have an easy life. His own father left the home when my dad was a young child, but he never let the curve balls life threw at him make him
Dr. Larry’s Father
Young Dr. Larry and his Little League team
give up being a generous person and doing his best for others. As a young man, he dreamed of someday owning his own home where he could raise a happy, loving family. He worked hard and achieved that dream. With Father’s Day coming up, I have been thinking about some of the lessons he taught me. Perhaps the most vital of them is the importance of taking pride in my work and doing the best job I can, with or without recognition from others, no matter what that job is and no matter what personal challenges I may have. Of course, doing everything with kindness and good humor is nearly always the best approach. Also, it is important to give everyone a chance — even if they are the worst hitter on the team.
–Lawrence Cardano, Au.D.
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