One Monday morning a couple months back I opened my garage door preparing to leave for the office. A Waste Management truck had just pulled up out front, and the worker on the back of the truck hopped off to empty our trash cans. He saw me and waved, and we exchanged pleasantries as I waved back. He then ran my empty trash cans up to me at the garage door, and placed them carefully by the recycle bins, which had been emptied earlier and neatly placed there by the man working that particular truck. I thanked him, and we told each other to have a great day as he ran back to his truck and they moved on.

As the truck lumbered around the corner and down the street, I glanced to my left. Standing in the middle of his driveway was my neighbor, who had just watched this entire exchange. He had been outside and the workers had not even acknowledged him. With a look of extreme puzzlement on his face, he turned to look at his trash cans and recycle bins, lying on their side scattered about in the street at the end of his driveway. He glanced back at the cans and neatly stacked recycle bins sitting by my house, and then back at his. His gaze finally turned and rested upon me with his face asking the obvious question – “What the hell?”

We get very good service from the folks at Waste Management, with three service trucks every Monday morning. One handles general trash, one collects recyclables, and the third collects yard waste. They have been extremely reliable and even work on most holidays. Last year my wife and I decided to give each worker on these trucks a Christmas card containing twenty dollars to show appreciation for the service they provide throughout the year. We met each truck one Monday before Christmas, and handed the cards to each worker, thanking them for the thankless job they perform. We never gave it much thought after that, and truly expected nothing in return.

Something strange started happening. The following week I opened my garage door to find every container neatly stacked by the house. It happened the week after that, and the one that followed that. And it has, with few exceptions, continued throughout the year. It is a small gesture provided by these men to provide a little extra service and to say thank you for the consideration we provided. The only negative affect is that I need to check every Monday morning, as they sometimes place the cans on my side of the garage, and I need to be careful not to back over them as I depart.

It really is a tremendous benefit of the holiday season. We gave a gift, which has been unexpectedly returned in kind to us throughout the year. Simple acts often produce the most fortuitous of benefits. That is a lesson we could take into workers' comp at many, many levels. It is something to think about this Chrishannakwanadan season, and beyond.

Chrishannakwanadan represents my own politically incorrect way of being politically correct. The word is an amalgam of Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza and Ramadan, the four major celebratory events of the year from major cross sections of our population. Its origins are in our own company holiday parties, which have become known as the Annual Chrishannakwanadan office party.

I originally wrote about Chrishannakwanadan here.

So as we prepare to take a few days off to celebrate the holidays with our family, remember that small gifts may have many unanticipated benefits, whether it is the Chrishannakwanadan season or not.

Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah to all, and to all a good year.

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