There’s a Man in My Cans

There’s a man. He rides his bike. On my street. He doesn’t live on this street. He parks his bike. Only on Thursdays. Garbage night. He parks his bike by each set of cans on our street and goes through the garbage and recycling. This is interesting to me. On many levels.

The first time I saw him, honestly, I didn’t like it. I was taking my cans out, so he was across the street. It felt a little like an invasion and I was sort of surprised one of the “freedom lovers” on my street didn’t cuss him out and chase him away. Then I realized my neighbors were all probably in the same boat as me: uncertain how to feel and therefore actionless.

It’s not like he was exactly trespassing. He cleans up after he’s done digging the cans out. So then I started to figure eh, what the hell? But then a friend of mine said it made him uneasy too—different town, different street, same thing—and he said that it was stealing from the city. Then I started to imagine this man was taking away from our schools, roads, and public safety. Only for a second though I thought this, then got distracted by bbq or something. And I forgot about it. Sort of. I started taking my cans out later at night to avoid any interaction in front of my house.

Tonight I decided to take my cans out early and wasn’t thinking of him, but then saw him a couple houses down across the street. I watched him for a minute, as he cleaned his mess up, and I was back to thinking eh, what the hell? He’s working. It’s our trash, basically. We’re not bothering to take it down to a recycling place for cash ourselves. What’s a few bike-loads of cans to the city compared to what we pay in taxes? He’s putting out more effort trying to scratch out a tiny income for himself than many of the people I mentioned in one of my previous posts. I don’t know what his circumstances are but there’s a part of me that would like to think that if I had to, if it came to that, I’d be out collecting cans before I threw up my hands and sat on my ass in defeat.