The Bus Terminal

images-11Recently, my friend Bart arrived at the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal in the center of Manhattan as one of the city’s nearly one-quarter million daily visitors. Gliding down the escalator onto the main concourse, he noticed a uniformed man upending trash cans into a large wheeled bin with an efficiency borne of long practice. Sweeping his eyes around this bustling section of the main floor, he saw that it was virtually litter-free. Thousands of hurrying feet and no trash. A sudden curiosity struck him.

He approached the uniformed man. “Josh,” said his shirt. Bart congratulated him on keeping this massive hall so comparatively clean. Then he asked him how many of these cans he took responsibility for each day.

“There used to be four of us,” came Josh’s reply. “Now I take care of all 421 cans around the station myself.”

Stunned by the sheer enormity of the task, Bart calculated quickly in his head. “That’s impossible,” he said.

“Yes, it would be,” noted Josh, continuing to work as they talked. “But I developed a system. I keep my eyes open and figure which cans fill up the fastest, which are average, and which ones can be let go for a day or two. I do my best. But I do manage to get to each one before it fills to overflowing.”

Bart thanked him for his time, and with a soft, not overly tuneful whistle, Josh wheeled his huge gray bin down toward his next destination.

After I heard this story I found myself thinking of this gentleman who was so excellently managing his process. Not for a moment did Josh wallow in the distractions concerning the egregious amount of his work; the unrealistic expectations of a possibly uncaring management; and all the possible frustrations any judgmental thinking on his part might generate. He viewed the process that was going on around him and moved forward within it. He analyzed the situation and created a workable response, and brought his best to bear on his daily work at the bus terminal. He saw the process, envisioned a better one of his own, and proceeded accordingly. In his words, “I do my best.”