The Old Rubbish Man on Garbage Day

B.T. Higgins

With gnarled hands and a stooped back, the Old Rubbish Man pulled his cart. One wheel squeaked and the other one wobbled, but the cart rolled true behind him. A great canvas covered a mountain of cargo. When the Old Rubbish Man tugged on the cart, it always followed.

The old man searched, with a gleam in his eyes, as he passed each house on the street.

Soon, he found a treasure in the garbage can of Mrs. Anderson. A toaster, all broken and battered.

“That toaster is garbage,” Mrs. Anderson called out from the house. “It burns every slice that it toasts.”

The Old Rubbish Man slipped in under the canvas and tied it down securely.

Mrs. Anderson scowled at the the Old Rubbish Man, but he just smiled and rolled on by.

Under a pile of bags meant for the landfill, the Old Rubbish Man found a twisted scooter. “It’s garbage. It wobbles. It’s ugly,” said Mr. Simon McMillon the third.

The Old Rubbish Man just nodded and waved as he added the find to his cart. 

At the end of the street he turned left down Maple where he discovered a chipped set of glasses. 

On Douglas, at First Street, he found a broken snow shovel. 

On Lake Drive, he found an old rusty skillet. 

The Old Rubbish Man pulled his cart to a curb and locked the wheels in place. He took a stool from the cart, sat down and lifted the canvas over his head. A light turned on under the canvas. Beams of light shone through the holes and gaps. The Old Rubbish Man chose the right tools and began to work, hidden under the canvas.  People walking by heard thuds and the clinking of metal. All day he tinkered. Cars drove by and didn’t see him. He hammered. He cut. He welded. He filed. He built. 

Slowly, he transformed the battered toaster, the twisted scooter, the chipped glasses, the broken snow shovel and the rusty skillet. 

When he had finished his work, the Old Rubbish Man smiled. “Perfect,” he whispered and turned out his light. 

He hauled his cart for many miles until he reached the back driveway of a mansion. Up to the house, the Old Rubbish Man pulled his cart. 

He opened a wide door and dragged the cart inside. 

“Sir, the guests are arriving!” said a butler to the Old Rubbish Man. 

“Everything is ready,” said the old man. 

“The butler looked shocked. “Your clothes, sir. And may I suggest a shower?” 

“Tell them I’ll be down shortly.”  

The Old Rubbish Man dressed in the finest clothes and met his guests in the grand ballroom. 

They all clapped at his arrival and looked around for the cart. They found it in the place of honor, the canvas tied tightly. A brilliant light shone down on it from above.  

The dirty canvas sparkled with golden light. The wheels were encrusted with gems. The two cart handles were solid diamond, glowing from inside.  

The guests waited impatiently, for each of them knew that the real treasure lay beneath the golden canvas. 

The Old Rubbish Man, looking very much the ‘master of the house’ now, strode over to the cart. He reached under the canvas and pulled out the broken toaster. His hands lifted it high for the guests to see. At the sight, applause erupted. The toaster was now a gleaming, silver airplane. The Master of the House threw the plane into the air and it flew around above their heads. Its engine coils glowed red like a toaster.  

The Master revealed the twisted scooter; now an elaborate sculpture of a bear on roller skates. The guests were delighted as the bear rolled circles around them. They laughed as he danced.

The Master of the House had transformed the chipped cups into the finest cut crystal, each piece a unique beauty.

The broken shovel now had a handle of gleaming metal, a scoop of gold and a blade edge of ruby.

The rusty skillet was polished like new and could now cook without a stove. The guests clapped. The Master of the House smiled. The airplane, the bear, the crystal glasses, the shovel and the skillet were given five places of honor at the head table. The Master warmly greeted each guest by name. They celebrated long into the night. 

As the sun rose, the Old Rubbish Man heard the garbage trucks warming up their engines. 

He left the party, changed his clothes and pulled the cart out of the garage.  

The sun sparkled behind the mountains. 

“Another garbage day,” the Old Rubbish Man said. “How exciting!”  

With gnarled hands and a stooped back, the Old Rubbish Man pulled his cart.   

Digging Deeper

Others may see me as worthless and broken,

But the Maker sees me as His treasure.


“The Lord has declared this day that you are His people, his treasured possession…”

Deuteronomy 26:18.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Psalms 34:18

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

Psalms 147:3


Discussion Questions

  1. The people of the city were surprised, even angry, that the Old Rubbish Man showed interest in their garbage. Why do you think they reacted this way?
  2. What was your response when the Old Rubbish Man transformed useless garbage into treasures?
  3. Think of a time in your life when you felt you had little valve or worth. How would it change your perception to know you are loved and treasured by your Maker?

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