On the day before and on trash day, my neighborhood is full of people going through the recycling looking for cans. Today I saw a muscular late 30-something guy in a Harvard t-shirt combing through recycle bins on my street. Sometimes it's an elderly Asian man who picks up the cans and bottles daintily, with dignity as if he's bagging them in a grocery store. But there is this couple that does it that breaks my heart.
They drive from house to house in a 90's corolla-type sedan. They are probably in their late 60's. She sits in the car while he digs through the trash wearing yellow rubber gloves. They both have a look of grim shock and resignation. Then I noticed something about their car that I hadn't seen before.
An empty car seat in the back. Are they trying to raise a grandchild on a fixed income? Is this what it comes to? Collecting cans? I can tell by the look on their faces that they can't believe it's come to this. Driving through affluent neighborhoods collecting dirty cans. Digging through garbage bags. Somehow I don't think this was their retirement plan.
I'm wondering if I should ask them if they need any kids clothes. We've got bins of stuff that is slated for the salvation army. Would they be insulted if I asked? Perhaps I'm reading too much into the situation.