Thursday, April 07, 2005

A Day in the Life of a Trashman (Part II)

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” ~ II Corinthians 12:9 (KJV)

January 21, 1994
Journal Excerpt
(continued from last week)

On Tuesday, Keen and our loyal employee, Jimmy Hinck, began the difficult task of picking up the towns of Harveyville and Eskridge in our small truck. This involved multiple trips back and forth to the landfill in Alma. Afterwards, Keen and Jimmy decided to go to Flint Hills Foods to borrow a hoist so that they could remove the old engine from big truck for repairs. Well, there was a tragic accident. Keen was pulling the engine hoist on a trailer behind his pickup truck and Jimmy was walking alongside of the trailer to keep the hoist steady, when all of a sudden the hoist fell over, pinning Jimmy to the ground and breaking his back!

Jimmy is going to have surgery on Monday. Keen is praying so hard for him. When he called and heard Jimmy’s weak voice, he cried. He feels terrible. He keeps seeing Jimmy’s face and it’s just tearing him up inside. Jimmy has been one of our best employees ever. He is so dependable and enthusiastic. He actually does cartwheels between stops. He’s always talking about how fun his job is and how much he enjoys working for Keen. We are just devastated that this has happened to him.

Thank the Lord that we have worker’s compensation so Jimmy will receive a portion of what he normally gets paid from us and all of his medical expenses will be covered. He also works part time for Flint Hills Foods and they have a disability policy that will pay him $100 a month. It’s not much, but it helps. It’s just so tragic.

So on Tuesday after he got all of Eskridge and Harveyville picked up, he was headed for Alta Vista when he stopped on the road to pick up a customer’s trash. Just then Norma Conrad was driving by, so she pulled over to see if Keen was having trouble. She told him she was sorry about Jimmy and the truck. “Just remember that things are going to get better,” she said. Somehow those words of encouragement really boosted Keen’s spirits. Just the night before in the trash truck, Keen and I both agreed that despite the chaos and panic all around us, we both had this underlying peace that everything was going to be okay. It was a weird sensation – sort of like looking at the waves and the storm and just knowing that somehow you were going to make it through.

“Peace I leave with you; My own peace I now give to you. Not as the world gives, do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid - stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.” ~ John 14:27 (Amplified)

We just found out that our new truck is an automatic, so that means I could drive on residential days, [Tuesdays and Wednesdays], and Keen could throw the trash. Since Jimmy is in the hospital, we need a new driver. Plus, this would be another way to save money and make it easier to make our loan payment to the bank. God had that truck all picked out and prepared for us.

That night we returned home around 10:30 to find a note from Josh on our bedroom door. It read, “Mark Shumaker called and he wants you to call him no matter how late it is – even if it’s 11:00. He wants to help you on the trash truck tomorrow. He demanded that you call him so he can know what time to meet you at the shop.”

When I read that note I cried like a baby. It touched my heart so much that we had a friend who was willing to help us in our time of need. When Keen called him back, Mark told him that they so appreciated the way we made them feel welcome in this community. Now he wanted to do something for us. I just felt so touched. We don’t have many friends, but the ones we do have are more precious than gold.

It turned out to be a real gift from God to have Mark help, because if he hadn’t gone, then I was going to drive for Keen. So this way I was able to stay home and work on securing the financing we needed for our truck. I ended up being on the phone all day. Then the sooner we got it approved, the sooner Armor Equipment would put men on it nearly round the clock so it could be ready for us to pick up by Friday.

January 25, 1994

To pick up where I left off – we had applied for a loan at the Alta Vista State Bank and they approved our loan at 8% interest! This is the bank that has loaned us the money we’ve needed for everything we’ve ever done as far as business goes. So the wheels were really turning now.
It was Keen’s idea to ask Armor Equipment to provide two plane tickets and a hotel room and they agreed. Their men worked on it until 2:00 a.m. to get it done and it was ready to roll by 9:30 on Friday. (Grandma May’s birthday)

Keen and I were so excited with the truck – it was a gift from God. Everything was new and it all worked right. I drove it for two hours just to get my feet wet and did pretty well. We talked all the way back from St. Louis and marveled at how God worked everything out for us. Oh, to have a working truck! It’s all so amazing. We are in awe.

“I sought for the Lord...and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. Many evils confront the righteous; but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” ~ Psalms 34:4

Tomorrow will be my first day on the job. Keen said, “The idea of going to work with my wife is so intriguing to me. I can talk to you on the route now, instead of these other guys. I mean, we got married because we love each other. All we’ve ever wanted was just to be together and now we can!” He likes the idea of having coffee with me in the morning while the truck is warming up. He’s really excited. Of course, I’m a little less excited; I guess you could say I’m apprehensive.

When I was driving the truck home from St. Louis he said, “I’m proud to be able to show the world that my wife is multi-talented. She can be a Memphis belle when she wants to be; she’s an accountant, a lawyer, a mother, a housewife and now she’s a truck driver.” He’s so sweet and he makes me feel so loved. He also gives me the confidence to believe that I can do anything.
So even though last week was probably the darkest and bleakest week of our life, the end result was the purchase of this truck that will make our life so much more efficient in the long run. God knew we needed it and He also knew we wouldn’t have purchased it unless our old truck had a total breakdown. Since we seem to barely make it financially as it is, we never would have willingly taken on the added responsibility of a large truck payment. In a way, I guess we were forced into this purchase, but now we’re glad we were.

So I conclude that many times life’s greatest joys are born from life’s greatest agonies. That’s why we should never give up. It’s like Job – he never quit believing in the goodness of God and in the end, God showed Job he was right. God will never, ever fail His children – no matter how bleak things may look at times.

“…be satisfied with your present circumstances and with what you have; for He Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless, nor forsake you nor let you down, relax My hold on you. Assuredly not!" ~ Hebrews 13:5 (Amplified)

Keen & Eileen with new trash truck
Photo by Refugio Garcia