Maybe you wrinkle up your nose when I say the word “garbage.” But not Finn.
As a dad, it’s really cool to see the world through my son’s eyes. For Finn, there’s nothing more amazing than garbage trucks…he’s been watching them in awe since he was old enough to stand at the window and watch them drive by on Monday mornings. Finn is four now.
He’s told his mom and me for years that he wants to be a garbage truck driver when he grows up. Our nephews’ dreams have shifted from police officer to fireman to photographer. But not Finn. Finn loves garbage, and Finn wants to be a garbage man.
Since I work mainly inside the office at HDR, Finn doesn’t usually get as fired up about my job. He thinks I build bridges, which I do in a team building way…and every once in a while, when I work on a winning bridge project proposal. But, area marketing lead doesn’t have the same ring as garbage man for a four-year-old.
Over the past year, our team got to know the Public Works team from the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe (MIT). We’ve worked together before on some fisheries and transportation work for MIT, but this time, we were talking about their goals for revamping their solid waste plan. So I couldn’t help but share some of Finn’s enthusiasm with the team. His sense of wonder always reminds me to take a step back, and take notice.
I was out the day our team was preparing to interview for MIT’s project, so I left them a little encouragement…a photo of Finn beaming while sitting in a garbage truck, along with the words, “Go team! Win for Finn!”
The next day, MIT’s team came to our office to hear our take on bringing their project to life. We had some great discussions around the design of their site…what the program could be, how to build in safety, preserving the site’s environment.
At the end, we fielded a question we hadn’t anticipated from MIT. “So, who’s Finn? What’s the sign about?” The sign I’d created was still on the wall. Mary Shanks, our project manager, filled them in on Finn and his lifelong dream to be a garbage truck driver.
What was the coolest thing MIT could’ve done? Yep. Invite Finn to the site to sit behind the wheel of one of their garbage trucks and get his hands on some of the levers that help process waste.
They also made another solid decision after a few days, which was to award us the project.
A couple of weeks later my wife brought Finn to the MIT public works yard. He had the time of his life. The vest he got still hangs on his bed post. And I’m working on getting some Finn-sized HDR hard hats.
To me, you can’t beat the moments where it all comes together and work blends with life. After all, experiences like this are creating the design of our minds and those of the ones we love, right?
Images courtesy of Brent Kinkade