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5-Year-Old Boy Finds A Special Friend -- In His Neighborhood Garbage Truck Driver

SAN RAMON, Calif. (KPIX-TV) -- Some friendships make a lasting impression. On Thursday, a little boy who faithfully waits each week for a pal to pull up at his driveway had one last meeting (at least for now) with an unlikely buddy who certainly treasures their special friendship.

We all know the deal on trash day. The key is to get the trash cans out to the street in time for the garbage pick-up. For most of us, it's a chore. But for one little boy who lives in San Ramon, trash day is filled with excitement and anticipation.

Every Tuesday for the past two years, 5-year-old Finn Maier would listen for that familiar sound and run outside. "There is Todd!" Finn calls out as his friend pulls up to the curb.

"He originally was a little shy and he would just wave and now we're buddies," explained Todd Gonzales, a driver who works for garbage and recycling collecting company Alameda County Industries.

Gonzales has been in the business since 1994. He tells KPIX-TV in San Francisco he has met a lot people along his routes but none like Finn. "Every day, 5 o'clock in the morning -- rain or shine -- he is there with a big smile. 'Hi Todd!' He is so happy, it's contagious. It makes my day," said Gonzales with a grin.

Finn's family moved to the Bay Area right before the pandemic. "Everything shut down and we were basically all alone," said Kim Maier, Finn's mom.

For Finn -- who was born with Down Syndrome -- trash day during COVID became something he could look forward to. It was something he could count on. "It was actually one of the first relationships he was able to develop because he got to know Todd consistently," said Kim.

And so a unique friendship blossomed between the special little boy and his weekly visitor.

"He does as much for me as I do for him," Todd admitted. "I drive off with a big smile. So it makes my day too. I am thankful for that."

"One day, Todd came and Finn was gone and he said, 'Hey, where is our little buddy?" And I said, 'Oh, he started school and he leaves before you get here now,'" said Kim. "And then the next week, Todd was there again. He changed his whole route just so he could see Finn before he went to school."

"I didn't want to miss it. I didn't want him to miss it either," Gonzales said.

The two friends had a bittersweet last visit on Thursday, with Gonzales making a special trip to the Maier home. Finn's family is moving to Southern California so, for their last meeting before the move, Todd brought Finn a special gift. "It's a garbage truck! I got a garbage truck!" Finn shouted after pulling a toy truck out of a gift bag.

Finn gave Todd a present too: a book of memories of the two of them.

"That's my favorite book. You know that. That's my favorite one," Todd told Finn before they shared a final hug and Todd continued on his way.

It's a friendship that both will remember for a lifetime. Todd says he hopes the next garbage collector the family has in San Diego will take good care of Finn down the road.

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