Jump to content
  • entries
  • comments
  • views

Water from another time



In the mid-1950s when I was seven or eight, we lived on a dead end street that stopped at a creek bed. The garbage trucks would head down the street, nose-in, and then turn around in the driveway of the last house before heading back out.

The crews were made up of a white supervisor who drove and two black men who handled the garbage. In the hot Florida summers, they often waited after turning around, and took a short break in the shade. The driver would remain in the cab with its fan while the others would stay outside.

One day, my mother suggested that I take a bottle of cold water and a couple of cups down and see if they were thirsty. They were and appreciated the water. This trip became a weekly ritual. After a few times, the black men and I learned each other’s names and we began conversations about their families and homes. The ritual deference they had first showed me dropped away, and I learned that they were no different than I except that their children still had two parents at home.

Later, I had to learn the hard lesson that empathy is limited by experience, and that I could never, with any depth, understand the evils that a whole community endured. Eventually their schedule changed; no more instruction at the dead end.


Recommended Comments

There are no comments to display.

Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...