No one should have to celebrate their birthday alone—especially if it’s their 100th birthday. Knowing this, Ben Bird, a garbage collector of Midlands, UK, decided to surprise Dorothy Ballard one day on his usual route. It was her 100th birthday, but she probably didn’t expect to receive a big surprise.
Ballard, nicknamed “Mercy” by her friends, doesn’t have many plans in her daily routine. But there is one thing she always looks forward to: when her local garbage collector visits her each week. Bird makes an effort to stop and talk to Ballard for at least 10 minutes during his route.
Bird explained, “I talk to her every Thursday from 8 to 8:10 AM and every time I walk up to her garden path, she will be there waiting for me.” Over the years, the pair have grown to be close friends. Bird asks about Ballard’s day and their interaction cheers her up whenever she’s feeling lonely.
Bird has been Ballard’s garbage collector for the past 11 years. His favorite time of the day is when he can listen to stories about her life. Having been born in 1919, Ballard has witnessed the invention of many technological devices, including the radio, television sets, and more.
“I never have a cup of tea or anything like that. I wouldn’t let her go to that trouble,” Bird said. “I just then run after the other two lads (garbage collectors) to catch them up.”
When Ballard celebrated her 100th birthday in August 2019, Bird promised he would bring her a birthday cake. He never broke his promises before, so Ballard was looking forward to the cake. But when she opened her front door on the morning of her special birthday, she probably didn’t expect more than just Bird wishing her a happy birthday.
A Sweet Surprise
On the morning of Ballard’s 100th birthday, she opened her front door to see Bird and a group of men walking towards her. Bird brought along a group of his coworkers to bring the birthday girl a cake and they sang “Happy Birthday To You.” Ballard was clearly surprised, and the special moment was captured in a now-viral video.
When Ballard recovered from the surprise, she blew out the candles on her birthday cake. Bird urged her to make a wish that she will celebrate her 105th birthday. Ballard jokingly added that she’s “had enough,” having lived for a whole century already. However, everyone hopes that the wish will come true.
Ballard has witnessed many inventions in her lifetime, but one invention she hasn’t quite mastered yet is an iPhone, specifically how to take a selfie. When Bird wanted to take a selfie with her and two of his colleagues, she repeatedly asked, “Where do I look?”
Bird’s video has been shared several times by various media outlets on YouTube and Twitter. Internet users loved Bird’s simple act of kindness. Ballard was clearly surprised by the gesture, and she was happy that she didn’t have to spend her birthday alone.
Twitter user (@PhilHumphris) shared, “Wonderful. I have amazing bin (garbage collecting) men who come to my house every Monday. I get a wave and a hello every week.” Another user (@maureen12485368) said, “Respect to the bin men who bought her cake and spent time with her on her special day. And for showing her friendship over the years.”
Ballard’s granddaughter, Katy Smith, saw the video and was touched by the heartwarming gesture. She sent a personal “thank you” note to Bird, saying that he definitely made her grandmother’s day. She commented, “We all feel very blessed to have her. She has a great sense of humor and is loved by so many. We treasure every moment.”
We hope Ballard will celebrate many more birthdays. Until then, Bird will continue to greet her during his route. After all, he calls her his “best friend.” He will always take time out of his schedule for her.
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