This is Oneida: A lesson from a garbage truck

By Larry Gritton

Published: February 19, 2019

If you've ever done much driving or traveling in southeastern Kentucky, you have most likely experienced the frustration of a slowly moving log truck, coal truck, or some other slow-moving vehicle. I was recently headed to another wonderful ministry in our county called Chad's Hope. Chad's Hope is a Christian drug rehabilitation center, and does a great work in the lives of many men. They had invited me out to speak in a chapel service, but on this trip I experienced the frustration of a slowly moving garbage truck. (Is there any other kind of garbage truck other than slow-moving?) I absolutely loved it! Keep reading and I'll tell you why.

I have never served in the military, yet I am big on punctuality. My father drilled into my siblings and me the importance of being punctual. I can recall sitting in Rupp Arena hours before state tournament games were to begin and wondering why my father always had us there so early and joking about being the first people to arrive and turning on the lights for them. That life lesson has served me well throughout my life, but I almost get physically ill if I think I am going to be late. I wish I weren't that way, but I am.

As I got within about two miles of Chad's Hope that day, I found myself following this garbage truck that was making frequent stops and pickups. There certainly wasn't anywhere to pass the truck on the narrow and curvy road, and I was growing a little restless as I considered my approaching time slot for the chapel service. When I finally reached the turnoff for Chad's Hope, wouldn't you know the garbage truck turned there as well and would hold me up another half-mile or so? It was in that last half-mile that I recognized the worker jumping on and off the back of that garbage truck and picking up and dumping the trash. He was a former Oneida student from a few years ago.

A large percentage of American children are a generation or two into watching their parents not pursue an education or employment. Seeing this young man working really blessed my heart. Perhaps this young man's two years with us had some small role in his becoming a working adult. While working as a garbage collector may not be glamorous, it certainly is an important job. We do our best to instill a work ethic and pride in a job well done into our young people. Certainly kids today would rather play video games or surf the worldwide web than work, but we will continue to teach our young people the value of hard work.