Ed Grisamore

Macon woman’s love of Coke and her Southern hospitality makes for a charming ritual

Macon woman has Coke and a smile for trash men, mailman everyday

Joyce Beasley, 83, brings a cold Coca-Cola to her mailman, Tony King, every afternoon. She also has taken Cokes to the garbage collectors for the past seven years.
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Joyce Beasley, 83, brings a cold Coca-Cola to her mailman, Tony King, every afternoon. She also has taken Cokes to the garbage collectors for the past seven years.

Joyce Beasley hears the trucks before she sees them.

The garbage truck climbs the hill at Inglewood Place every Friday, stopping along the curb to pick up the week’s trash.

And the mail truck makes its appointed rounds every day except Sunday and holidays, delivering the usual assortment of cards, letters, church bulletins and utility bills.

At Joyce’s house, the next sounds are the refrigerator door opening, and her footsteps marching to the end of her driveway with Coca-Colas in her hands.

Folks like Joyce Beasley restore our faith in humanity. For every discouraging headline, there are countless acts of kindness to remind us there still is good in the world.

A 12-ounce red can of caffeine, caramel and carbonation isn’t a huge deal, but small deeds make the big picture.

She greets everyone who picks up her garbage with a Coke and a smile. Her mailman Tony King gets curb-side cola service every afternoon. If a FedEx or UPS delivery truck is in the area, the drivers stay hydrated, too, if they are anywhere near Joyce’s house.

“She’s been doing this for years,’’ King said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s raining, sleeting or snowing, she’s going to walk out here and give me a Coke. I try to run up there (to the house) sometimes, and she’ll stop me. No matter what the weather is, she is going to do it.’’

Joyce is 83 years old. It has been more than four years since she drank a Coke. She has severe diabetes and has to have five shots a day. She only drinks water or milk because of her kidney condition.

But she usually is at the register when 12-packs go on sale at Kroger or Walgreens.

“There’s nothing like a cold Coke, especially with the jobs they do,’’ she said.

She began serving soft drinks during the summer of 2012, when Macon tied its record-high temperature of 108 degrees on consecutive days.

“The Lord laid on my heart that the least I could do was give them something cold to drink,’’ she said.

Not many people look forward to garbage day, but it’s among the highlights of the week for Joyce. At times, as many as four different trucks circle through her neighborhood – one for garbage, another for recycling and others for yard debris and larger trash items.

On Fridays, she keeps vigil in her den, passing the time doing jigsaw puzzles and writing poetry until she hears the roar of the garbage truck. The weather doesn’t deter her. If it’s cold, she bundles up in a heavy coat. If it’s raining, she remembers to put on her old shoes.

On those rare occasions when she misses their arrival, she hurries after them in her car.

Joyce grew up in Macon and graduated from Miller High School for Girls in 1954. She married her high school sweetheart, Gene Beasley, and they had three children – Kathy, Pam and Brad.

Gene worked for the Macon-Bibb County Fire Department’s fire prevention bureau for 37 years. He died in 1995. Joyce has lived on Inglewood Place for more than 40 years. Glaucoma caused her to lose vision in her right eye.

Joyce said her Coca-Cola ministry brings her joy. The gratitude is contagious … and reciprocal.

“They are my friends,’’ she said. “Before Mother’s Day, they all wished me a happy Mother’s Day. They wished me Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Easter. Every one of them is a gentleman, and I’m honored to be their friend.’’

A few weeks ago, one sanitation worker showed his appreciation by presenting her with a gift card for a meal at a local restaurant.

“He said he wanted me to get a good dinner,’’ Joyce said. “I told him I didn’t want him spending his money on me. He said, ‘Mrs. Beasley, you look after all of us. The least we can do is do something for you.’ ’’

How important is it to her? One of her granddaughters came over on a Friday, and Joyce gave her some meal money.

“I wouldn’t leave to go have lunch with her,’’ Joyce said, laughing. “I didn’t want to miss my trash man.’’

Ed Grisamore teaches journalism at Stratford Academy in Macon. His column appears on Sundays in The Telegraph.