post written by: Marc Chernoff

A Garbage Man: The Greatest Job I’ve Ever Had


One of my good buddies recently told me a rather thought-provoking story.  As short and simple as it is, the story uncovers certain indirect truths pertaining to personal satisfaction in life and the impact that camaraderie plays in creating a rewarding career. 

It goes something like this:

garbage manWhen I joined the Marines as an active duty soldier in the mid 1990’s my first job as a lowly 18 year old Private First Class was picking up trash on the military base.  I worked with 5 other soldiers my age.  We drove a pickup truck around the base for several hours every morning picking up other people’s garbage bags and emptying small dumpsters.  Military or not, we were garbage men, through and through.  What initially seemed like a nightmare, actually ended up turning into one of the greatest jobs I’ve ever had.

It’s not that I love the idea of being a garbage man, or even that I enjoyed picking up smelly bags of trash.  I enjoyed the job because I loved hanging out with the guys I worked with.  In the four years I spent serving my country as a Marine, I was assigned many different jobs, duties, and responsibilities.  Many of these jobs held more prestige and were far more sophisticated than my duties as garbage man.  Yet when I look back at my military years, some of the most memorable moments, the moments that defy the test of time, emerged from the month that I spent with my fellow garbage man buddies.

Maybe I was just young and carefree, or maybe the personalities just clicked.  Either way, I’m proud to say that being a garbage man for one month on a military base in Japan was one of the greatest jobs I’ve ever had.  It was an experience that taught me a fundamental life lesson…  No matter how difficult a task is or how intimidating the surroundings are, with the right mix of people working together, any task can be easily conquered while being collectively rewarding to all the parties involved.

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6 Comments

  • What a great life lesson & I don’t usually say stuff like that, but it really is.

  • I am certain that most veterans have similar stories to share from their junior enlisted days…this is the back bone of “espirt de corps” …the millitary enforces this and it is as real as it gets from a comradary stand point…espirt de corps is “A group of individuals united sense, or feeling, of direction, conviction, spirit, and enthusiasm toward a generally positive cause” (wikipedia, 2007)
    the best part of being a Jr Enlisted person is that you have true friends and true relatinoships and there are no politics! It is conviction and spirit toward a positive cause…friendship!

  • good post, perhaps the freedom of it was also a welcom break from the rigid military

  • A marine, yes - but for this brief time - an 18 year old boy working together with his friends.
    A beautiful story.
    Thank you.

  • @All:
    It truly is a remarkable story that almost forces you to reevaluate your judgment of true success.

  • Very happy story. Thank you.

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