Fiction Friendship Happy

Drive to the next house, pick up the can, dump. Drive to the next house, pick up the can, dump. Drive to the next house.....

Gary hated the repetition of his job. He hated ending his work day at 3 pm stinking like everything and anything the upper middle classes decided to throw out that day- funky smelling couches, leftover pizza, road kill, deceased family pets, and whatever else your wildest imagination could think of to throw out.

Yeah, it was an easy job. Yeah, it was a decent paying job. But it just wasn't a very challenging or rewarding job. Plus, being a garbage man didn't really make the women come running at you in droves. So Gary returned home every afternoon to his empty little house, took a shower, watched TV till dinner time, and then went to bed early so he could get up early the next day and do it all over again.

That is, until one day. Tuesday. Gary was up at his usual 4 am, worked out, got dressed, ate his two fried eggs, and was in his truck ready to go by 5:30 am.

'Here we go again,' he whispered to himself. Drive to the next house, pick up the can, dump. Drive to the next house, pick up the can, dump? No dump; crazy grinding sound instead!

'Well, at least it's something different,' muttered Gary as he got out of the cab to investigate. It didn't take him long to figure out what the problem was. There, stuck in the hydraulic lift mechanism was a gold lamp. He wiggled and pried at it a bit and out it came. He regaled it in his hands for a minute. It was gold and sparkly. A bit dented, but could still pass for something out of the movie Aladdin.

'Hmmm,' he snorted as he returned to the cab of his truck and chucked the lamp in the passenger seat beside him. He finished his route without giving it a further thought.

At the dump he considered just chucking it in the pile with the rest of the trash, but instead he brought it with him to his car. He contemplated it as he drove back home. Maybe he could make it into a planter? Maybe it would make a fun door stop? Maybe he could use it as a watering can? Well, whatever he decided to do with it it was going to need a good cleaning first.

So instead of going strait inside for his customary shower, Gary lingered in the garage to clean the lamp. He scrounged up an old rag that he typically used to wash his car with and some car wax. Not exactly the proper tools for polishing a gold lamp, but they would have to do. He got to work rubbing at the tarnish on the lamp. Harder and harder and harder he circled the rag as he tried to buff out some of the scum until, to his surprise, the lamp rattled, shook, and began to glow.

He dropped it in shock as the metal warmed and a blast of light erupted out the end of the lamp. The overhead lights grew dim, but he could still see thanks to the light of a, well, he supposed it must be a genie floating before him in his garage!

'Who, what, how,' stuttered Gary in disbelief.

'Hi there. I'm a Genie,' stated the Genie nonchalantly.

He held out his apparition of a hand to Gary. Gary attempted to shake it.

'So, I suppose you know how this works then,' the Genie questioned.

'Ummm, I guess I get three wishes or something like that right?'

'Right you are,' answered the Genie.

'Wow. That's a lot of pressure. I've never ever thought about what I would wish for if I had wishes. Hmmm, well, I guess for starters I would wish my way out of this rut I seem to be stuck in. For my first wish I wish that my life was totally different!'

'Granted,' nodded the Genie stoically.

Suddenly Gary found that he was no longer standing upright. Instead he was tipped backward in a wheel chair. He wasn't breathing through his mouth and nose anymore, but through a plastic tube in his neck. A feeding tube protruded from his stomach, an IV line from his arm, a catheter from- well, down there. He couldn't move and could barely manage to speak.

Gary found himself a mixture of frightened and disappointed.

'This is wrong! This isn't what I wished for at all,' whisper yelled Gary to the Genie.

'Isn't it,' asked the Genie. 'You wanted your life to be completely different and now it is. You have to admit this life is nothing like the one you were previously living. And what's wrong with this life- you're alive aren't you?'

'No, I, but...but this isn't LIVING,' shouted Gary.

'Isn't it? This is how the man on the first stop of your route lives each an every day of HIS life,' replied the Genie.

'Oh, I didn't realize that,' muttered Gary. 'I guess I just got so hung up on the repetition of collecting people's garbage I never really stopped to notice any of the people on my route.'

Gary thought to himself for a minute.

'Genie, I know what I want for my next two wishes.'

'And that is...'

'Genie I wish for my old life back- just exactly the way it was.'

The Genie nodded his head and Gary was restored to his former condition. Gary breathed a sigh of relief and quickly assessed that all systems, bits, and pieces of his body were working the way they were supposed to be.

'And for your final wish?'

'Genie, I wish for the first man on my route to have a better quality of life.'

'Done,' said the Genie as he disappeared in a puff of smoke back into the lamp.

The next day Gary performed his usual routine. He drove to the first house on his route, picked up the can, dumped, and then parked his truck and rang the doorbell of the house. A caregiver answered the door and let Gary inside. Over the next few weeks Gary visited Glen every day. He learned all about his new friend and although Glen never did recover and rise from his wheelchair his quality of life had improved ten fold because now he had something he had never ever had before- a best friend.

July 05, 2021 13:32

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Nadine Zielinski
17:14 Jul 11, 2021

Great story! As Tricia pointed out, this is the perfect example of the "Be careful what you wish for." adage. Something we all need to think about these days.


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Tricia Shulist
19:55 Jul 10, 2021

That was nice. Goes with the old adage, be careful what you wish for … Thanks for this.


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