For over two months now in my new job in Texas (My third job since retiring from the Air Force & second in Texas) I have seen a man in a blue jacket walking this city. He just passed by me today and it prompted me to finally (after many months of putting it off) write on this blog again. You’d think this man in the blue jacket is a city employee but he’s not. I patrol this city as a Code Officer now – a job I somehow transitioned to by divine intervention yet again. Trusting my good ol gut instinct after working in another city as their Emergency Manager for almost 70 days straight without a real mental break. I patrol this city and see him at least once a day no matter where I’m patrolling. A few weeks ago, I asked my colleagues if they knew who he was. Most did not, but one colleague did say “I’ve seen him near the park a few times and he sure likes keeping the city beautiful!” This man walks in a completely meditative state picking up cigarette butts and trash off the sidewalks, cleaning park areas and he doesn’t seem at all bothered by cleaning up other people’s trash. Today I approached him outside the library and he smiled as he puffed on his almost gone cigarette. It’s cold and he wears the nice blue jacket and isn’t homeless. He says he simply likes walking and cleaning up the mess. I thanked him for helping make my job easier and we parted ways. His response to me was priceless…(read to the end)
2020 has given many of us a lot of pain, a lot of serious struggles and more. But I’ll tell you the best thing 2020 and COVID-19 gave me was perspective. Sure I had a good perspective about life, what life’s all about, my goals and such. But the I didn’t truly have this perspective mastered until 2020 reared its ugly head with COVID-19, job loss, numerous mental health hospital stays for my son, and more…
I didn’t truly have a perspective of peace inside my heart until resigning from my previous job as an Emergency Manager. I and others were working under severely micromanaged and fear-based conditions where perspective was largely absent from our leaders daily interactions with us. People were treated not like people but things to be managed and overworked. Unrealistic expectations mixed with the absence of real leadership made for an unpleasant experience. People go (and stay) where they feel valued, seen, trusted and treated with respect. So what does the man I see every single day on patrol have to do with leadership. It’s all about perspective taking. Most people driving around may have noticed the man in the blue jacket. Very few actually paid attention to his actions, even fewer stopped to observe the impact of his actions, and even fewer (if anyone at all) have stopped to ask why he walks around the city from morning until dusk cleaning up other people’s discarded cigarette butts, bottles, cans, and trash.
Maybe just maybe he has a different perspective or reverence for a clean city. Maybe he’s trying to make a small difference. I’ll tell you he didn’t expect me a city employee to tell him thank you for making my job easier today. He smiled said “but always!” and kept on walking across the library field to pick up more blown trash. I will find out one day what his full story is.
For now I thank him for giving me a smile each day as I navigate this city’s hard realities and truths. I hope more people see and appreciate his efforts, I know I sure do.