Wednesday, April 17, 2013

America's youngest garbage man

America's youngest garbage man

Houston resident Joe Jarvis is the most popular guy on his street, and if you took your neighbors' trash out every week, you probably would be, too.  But it's highly unlikely that you'd look as adorable as Joe while on the job because Joe is only 5 years old.

As part of his curbside garbage service, which he started last February, Joe takes his neighbors' trash out every Sunday and brings the carts back in the next day for the reasonable price of 25 cents per household.

"Joey Jarvis has been our garbage 'man' for one year now," said Bette and Paul Lester in an email. "Now that he is almost 6 years old, he may need to get a raise from his 25-cent weekly pay."

As if part of a mini parade, Joe marches down the street each week with his parents, Jill and Carl, and his siblings, 3-year-old Brooke and 18-month-old James, to take out their neighbors' trash and recycling.

"Everyone thought it was great to have someone pull out their trash cans, and then back in the next day for a quarter a week," Jill said.

Jill and her husband, Carl, got the initial idea for Joe's trash service from a magazine article.
"We saw an article in FamilyFun Magazine about someone who was taking part in a garbage can roll out service for their neighbors," Jill said. "It was an older child, but we thought Joe might like it."

Jill and Carl work mostly from home and spend a lot of time at the computer, she said. Joe, who was 4 years old at the time and very curious about his parents' obligation to their jobs, would often ask them why work was necessary.

"First we said it's to make money, but he didn't really see us making money, you know, printing money," Jill said. "So we needed a way to explain what work is and why we spend so much time doing work."

Joe has locked down a solid customer base of eight neighbors since last February, earning $2 a week and a total of $120 for his efforts.

"It's easy when mom and dad pay for everything," Jill said. "But if he earns his quarters, he can count his quarters, so he knows how much a quarter is worth and that four in a pile make a dollar."

Having to face tough decisions, like whether to spend his money on little things or to save it for something more expensive, has taught Joe important lessons about the value of money, she said.

For example, Joe was patient enough to save up $70 worth of quarters to purchase a Lego Duplo bridge for his train set. He will also buy the occasional ice cream from the ice cream man and will sometimes take his quarters to church for donation, Jill said.

As of lately, Joe has been mulling over a Lego fire truck purchase. He's also planning to save some quarters to buy himself some gold, Joe told me in an interview.

"He's mostly saved it," Carl said. "Though every once in a while he'll get an idea in his head."
Still, the lessons he is learning by doing this job are much more important than the money he is earning, his parents said.

With eight neighbors counting on him to take out their trash, Joe has learned a lot about the importance of reliability and finishing what he started, Jill said.

"Doing this garbage can job every week has really forced us to teach our kids things that we want them to know to be good kids and turn into good people," Jill said.

Carl hopes that in the future, Joe will pass the business on to Brooke so she can one day learn the same lessons.

"Maybe he'll get an idea for another little business he can do, and give [the trash can job] to his sister."

Courtesy, the Jarvis family 5-year-old Joe Jarvis earns 25 cents per can taking his neighbors' trash out.

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