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Monday, September 16, 2013

The Industrious Can Collector.

I've seen him for that last two. He's a black man in his 50's. He usually wears a cap, and sometimes a kerchief tied around his neck. I've had the opportunity to talk with him briefly a few times. He's warm and affable with an easy smile or chuckle. He's intelligent and looks you in the eye. And he's mentioned the Lord as if he knows him.

I see him all over the downtown, and the closely surrounding neighborhoods -- often in the early morning, but it can a bit later.With him he pulls a large grocery carts crammed to the hilt with returnable cans and bottles. Hung heavily on the cart are large trash bags full of the same treasure. I've seen him search dumpsters and garbage cans behind the businesses on Main Street, but he also searches garbage cans on the adjacent  streets. It must take a number of hours to make all his rounds on foot and get the thing loaded. Knowing Northampton, I suspect people leave returnables for him as he makes his rounds. If you saw him when his cart is chocked full and putting in the effort he's making, you realize it's a cumbersome and heavy beast, especially navigating street-crossing when the traffic is busy, or pulling the unwieldy thing up over curbs. He's earning every bit of his "paycheck."

I refer to him as industrious because he's consistent and works very hard. Whatever misfortune has befallen him, he's making the best of it by working every day to make money so he can eat, maybe even have a room somewhere. He shows up each morning and is at the task, sometimes even a bit before sunrise. He's different from the folks who've chosen to sit and ask for money from passers-by each day. He takes whatever we throw out or cast aside, gathers it and tries to earn his daily bread. He's not looking for a hand out beyond what we throw out. Maybe he gets state or federal assistance, but he doesn't leave it at that because he's working like everyone else who gets up and heads to their place of employment.

I respect him very much for his attitude, his diligence, and work ethic. As I mentioned, when I've had a minute or two to talk with him he's humble, with a cheerfulness which belies a hard life, although I'll bet he has a story, like so many of these folks on the street which was anything but happy. It may have even have been horrific.

As far as I can see, he's working like everyone who's trying to make a living. I don't know how he actually feels about his lot in life, but by watching him, he's not feeling sorry for himself or giving up.

More opportunity to him, and may the Lord magnificently bless all his industry beyond anything he ever imagined.
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