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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Neighborhood Shocked After Mystery 'Garbage Man' Actions Discovered

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It’s often the smallest acts of kindness that make a big difference in someone’s day. A simple gesture can mean the world to the right person at the right time, something that Melody Luttenegger of Appleton, Wisconsin, can attest to.

The Lutteneggers are one of the newer additions to the neighborhood, having moved into their home in November. The house had stood empty for years, but soon they were filling it with light and life.

But a curious occurrence kept puzzling Melody: Somehow, after their trash bins were emptied, they’d end up back at the side of the house as if by magic.

Melody first asked her husband if he was responsible for quietly getting up early and putting the bins away, but he said no.

“It was so strange because all of a sudden … our garbage cans were just showing up,” Luttenegger told WFRV-TV. “We have such a long driveway and I’m like oh my gosh … maybe the garbage company is bringing our garbage?”

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But like clockwork, the bins kept finding their way back to their place alongside the house. Melody was determined to get to the bottom of this mystery and repay the kindness with a little gesture of her own.

So she and her son, 9-month-old Mason, got up early one morning, dressed warmly and waited outside to see who the secretive do-gooder was.

“It was the day before Christmas Eve,” she said. “And I got a little gift for him. And me and Mason came out and we stood there, waiting and waiting.”

And at 8:21 a.m., a figure appeared at the end of the icy drive and walked the trash bins back up to the house.

It was Dick Pontzloff, a 75-year-old retiree and neighbor who had taken it upon himself to go the extra mile and put all his neighbor’s trash bins away every time the garbage collection was complete, as well as the recycling bins on recycling days.

No one asked him to do it. He just decided it would be a nice thing to do and started doing it, saying that he “enjoys the exercise.”

“When I retired, I got sick of doing nothing,” he explained, according to My Modern Met. “So I started going around picking up garbage cans — everyone’s garbage cans. Not just certain ones, everyone’s.”

Even in the bitterest cold — one morning was -2 degrees Fahrenheit — Pontzloff is dedicated to his cause, biking from house to house to do his good deed. The cold doesn’t seem to put him off — in fact, he seems to find it invigorating.

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“I’ve been from … Wisconsin most of my life,” he said. “I love winter. It’s not that bad.

“I put this mask on because it makes your face nice and warm. That’s the reason I’m wearing it. I don’t normally wear it.”

Many acts of kindness involve younger people assisting older people, but for Pontzloff being kind is simply the right thing to do.

“Just be nice to all people,” he said. “It’s just what you gotta do. Just think if you were at home and you needed somebody for some help.”

“For someone just like random to do that … it doesn’t go unnoticed,” Luttenegger said. “You know I feel like the kindness that strangers give is an unexplainable feeling. And you know he doesn’t even … realize how nice of a gesture it is and how much we appreciate it.”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking