In a neighborhood near Appleton, Wisconsin, members of the community had spent several days trying to figure out the mystery of their miraculously teleporting garbage cans. Every week, after lugging the bins out to the street the night before trash day, the empty cans would mysteriously reappear right outside of their garages the next morning. One curious neighbor named Melody Luttenegger was determined to get to the bottom of the mystery garbage man in her new neighborhood, where she and he family had only been living for a few months. And after a little bit of dedicated sleuthing, her curiosity was finally rewarded.
“It was so strange because all of a sudden our garbage cans were just showing up,” Luttenegger told a local news agency. “We have such a long driveway and I thought maybe the garbage company is bringing our garbage. I asked my husband, and he’s like, ‘No, I’m not bringing the garbage cans up.’” So she got herself and her 9-month-old son, Mason, all bundled up to go out in the cold and decided to wait and see for herself who was performing this random act of kindness
“It was the day before Christmas Eve,” she explains. “And I got a little gift for (them). Me and Mason came out and stood there, waiting and waiting.” Finally, at 8:21 a.m., an old man came walking up their long, icy driveway, trailing their garbage bins behind him. The mystery garbage man turned out to be a kind neighbor who lives just a few streets over. With more time on his hands since his retirement, 75-year-old Dick Pontzloff had decided to start bringing in his neighbors’ garbage cans as a way to stay active. “When I retired, I got sick of doing nothing,” Pontzloff explains, “so I started going around and picking up garbage cans. Not just certain ones, everyone’s.”
The retiree performs his kind act every week, riding his bike from house to house—even when the subzero temperatures would warrant anyone staying cozy in their warm bed. On the cold morning when Luttenegger met him in her driveway, it was a chilling -2°F, but Pontzloff shrugged it off, saying, “It’s not that bad.” Being from Wisconsin most of his life, the kind old man has grown accustomed to the weather and says he’s always loved winter anyway.
Judging by how long it took for his neighbors to finally discover him, it’s clear that Pontzloff wasn’t performing his random act of kindness for any recognition. In fact, the quiet old man even took his time in the limelight as an opportunity to share an inspiring message. “Just be nice to all people,” he says. “It’s just what you gotta do. Just think if you were at home and you needed someone for help.”
But either way, his generosity certainly hasn’t gone unappreciated. “For someone random to just do that, it doesn’t go unnoticed,” Luttenegger says. “You know, the kindness that strangers give is an unexplainable feeling.” Though bringing in garbage cans might seem like a thankless task, for Luttenegger and her family, Pontzloff's simple gesture has meant the world.
A curious woman identifies the mystery garbage man in her neighborhood who has been bringing in everyone's garbage bins on trash day.