Bottles and Cans

Thought about something that happened when I was living in Hartford, Connecticut back in the late '80s' ... not sure why, but it just came to mind ....

I was living in a 3rd floor, one bedroom condo, on the end of Willard Street off of Asylum about a 1/2 mile from the downtown area. At that time, Willard Street was a dead end and I lived in the 2nd to last building ... so ... street didn't get a lot of traffic ... pretty much just the people who lived on the far end of the street.

I had been a photographer for a small business paper with its' offices in a historic building just behind the Civic Center. Great job ... but watching every dime. Newspaper work never made anyone rich. This was back when you could still return bottles and cans for nickels and dimes at your local grocery store - and I'd just carted a bunch of said containers down to my car ... then noticed an old man digging through the garbage container in the back of the lot. Behind him was a grocery cart full of these cans and bottles., and I'd recognized him from his wonderings around Hartford pushing that cart - generally full of whatever he found that he thought valuable ... blankets, bottles, old bags full of ....

Didn't really say anything - I just took my containers over to his cart and put them in. Hadn't really been in the mood to drive down to the grocery store anyway .... and, my bills were paid. ... so. His smile was broad and wide and honest and relatively toothless and his thanks, profuse.

Never thought about that again, until about 6 or 8 months later. I was just getting back to my condo from running some early morning errands on a Saturday. My parking space was in the back of the lot and I ended up taking the back stairs up to my abode. Walking through my condos' door, my door buzzer was blaring away - it would stop for a second or two, then started blaring again. Apparently, someone was leaning on the buzzer at the front entrance to my building ..... I wasn't to happy about it and was fully prepared to let this jerk know about it.

Back out and down the front stairs and through the buildings front door .. and there was this man I'd given the cans to, grinning from ear to ear, holding up my wallet. Apparently, I had dropped it during one of my errands ... and I didn't even know it was missing. He told me he found my wallet the other side of town ... and I realized it was one of the places I had taken out my wallet to put something in it ... and somehow dropped it before I'd put it in my pocket. He had looked at my license and recognized me as the guy who had given him the containers .. and walked, pushing his cart, the 2 or 3 miles back to my residence, to return it to me.

I thanked him, profusely as he had done several months before and opened my wallet. My cash was still in there, as were my cards and license, I took the cash out and handed it to him. Wasn't much, about 25 bucks or so, but I'm sure he put it to good use.

Weeks later I would see this guy near the end of my street angry, yelling, and shacking his fist at something, not sure what or whom, or why. I know his life couldn’t have been easy ... and don’t know what became of him. Whatever it was that led him there, and was keeping him there ... I’m sure there was no easy “fix” for. But at least twice, he smiled, and seemed grateful. Once, for what I did for him .... and again, for my appreciation for what he did for me. Thank you.