When Rancho Pico Junior High School student Jayden Bailey left a note on one of his apartment’s trash bins introducing himself to his local garbage man, he never thought he would get a response.
“I don’t really know why I did it, but I thought it would be cool to get to know my garbage man — so I started leaving him notes,” said Jayden, 12, of Stevenson Ranch. “I wasn’t expecting a reply, just thought he would see it and that was all. And then he replied, and I was super surprised.”
The sticky notes started with a simple, “Hi, how are you? My name is Jayden.” Soon enough the boy received an answer from Saugus resident Hector Rodriguez, who started working as a trash collector during the pandemic.
“At first, I wasn’t sure what it was about; but after I figured it was a little kid and thought the parent was OK with it, I kept replying,” said Rodriguez.
Without ever meeting in person, the two got to know each other’s favorite colors, music and even the teams they cheered on for the Super Bowl.
“(Jayden) asked him if his Super Bowl team had won and (Rodriguez) replied with, ‘No, they lost,’ and it just went on and on until we got a knock on the door,” said Jayden’s mother, Theresa.
After months of several back-and-forth notes, Rodriguez decided to pay a visit to his new friend and break some news.
“I decided to go and let them know that it was going to be my last day on the job. I had brought him a piñata with candy in it,” he said, adding that a new opportunity had come before him but that he did not want to leave without saying goodbye.
The exchange between the two made it something to look forward to during the workday, Rodriguez added.
“It was such a good feeling; it was overwhelming,” he said. “They had even left me chocolates on Valentine’s Day but it was all the little notes that made my day. I got this job because of COVID. I had two part-time jobs and talking to him brightened my day.”
As for Jayden, he’s sad to see his local garbage man go, he said, but reaching out to him was “the funniest and coolest.”
“I think more people should do stuff like this and especially now because people are not as happy right now (due to the pandemic),” he said.