The Law of the Garbage Truck

How to Respond to People Who Dump on You, and How to Stop Dumping on Others, David J. Pollay, Sterling Publishing.

At Failure we typically steer clear of self-help books, because they tend to rehash the same tired advice. But with an assist from an almost unimaginably calm New York City taxicab driver, business consultant and syndicated columnist David J. Pollay has developed a compelling metaphor for remaining unencumbered by emotional baggage. In “The Law of the Garbage Truck,” Pollay teaches that by letting other people’s garbage (negativity, resentment, etc.) pass by, you can become happier and more successful, both personally and professionally. “The idea is to keep [y]our path clear of unnecessary limitations and not be discouraged by other people’s negative attitudes and actions,” he says.

According to the author, the inspiration for the concept came twenty years ago after the cab he was riding in was nearly demolished by a reckless driver. When the individual who almost caused the accident started screaming at Pollay’s driver, the cabbie responded by smiling, waving, and wishing the indignant man well. Said cabbie then looked back at Pollay and offered: Many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of frustration, anger, and disappointment. And if you let them, they’ll dump it on you. Don’t take it personally—move on.

Yet Pollay does more than simply advise the reader how to move on, he also explains how to avoid becoming someone else’s garbage truck, and how to help others stop dumping. While the concepts are simple, many of the distinctions the author makes are subtle. For instance, Pollay distinguishes between letting things pass you by and letting things go, the latter implying that you have to process the experience first.

Finally, for those who need a daily reminder not to accept garbage in their lives, there are four No Garbage Trucks! pledge cards in the back of the bookone for the reader, and one for family, friends, or coworkers who struggle with Garbage Trucks. “Incivility is a burden for everyone,” concludes Pollay. “That’s why our effort to improve our everyday interactionspublic and privateis so important.”