For you, the dress code is casual.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Local Mystery Solved

Hey! I almost forgot! Yesterday I finally solved a neighbourhood mystery. :)

I face the back alley, my apartment that is. I see the "binners" ("Dumpster divers") come and go, and unlike some residents in the city, I've got no problem with it. They do what they do, and they seem like great people. We've had many of the same binners in the neighbourhood for a long time now. I never have big chats with them (but have chatted some), don't know their name, but always leave my bottles out for them so they don't need to go diving since a little pride must go a long way. I'll sit them politely next to the bin, usually in a bag, or if I see them in the alley, I'll walk over and give them to them and wish 'em well.

A couple of the guys I like so much because they often smile and they've got so much dignity in the way they move and act, that if I see 'em coming, I go out of my way to find and bring them stuff, whether it means running back upstairs or what. This year I'm going to find out their names. And maybe the story of one particular guy.

Anyhow, one particular binner, but I've never known who, is this interesting individual who, when digging through bins, might find things he disagrees with tossing out, but that he, for whatever reason, doesn't need at that time. Like, perhaps a lightly-wrinkled whole apple that had been discarded. Then, he takes it out, sits it on the side, or a matched pair of still-wearable sneakers, sometimes with a piece of tissue underneath it so you see it's "presented" like a gift, and there it stays until someone who possibly needs that thing comes along.

Yesterday I found out which binner it was. This young mid-30s Asian guy who's been around for years, with really, really long hair, who I sometimes see walking over the bridge, too. I've always liked this guy. He was such a different air about him, and I get the sense he's chosen his lifestyle and that's why he always seems so content, gracious, and smiley. It's nice to officially know he has as generous a nature as I thought he might. 

Funny what little bits of life fly under the average radar. And here, in my back alley, a whole binning subculture exists, and I bet 10% of us locals even know. But I do. :) My three favourites are this guy, then there's the old 70s Asian lady who's maybe 5'1 with creaming thick white hair, skinny as a flagpole, and hoists massive can-filled bags onto the bus or pushes carts that make her seem like she's about to get blown away by a sudden gust. There's the old late-60s Asian man who's always carrying very 1970s vinyl bags and doesn't seem to speak English but will bow several times any time I give him something and smile big with his crooked yellowing teeth. There's no anger in any of these people, just a quiet desperation to make ends meet but an air of assurance that what they're doing will make that happen. They remind me to be grateful, and I'm always glad to see that they're still around, still fighting. When times were their darkest 2006, $$wise, I always kept them in mind, thinking how they proved there was always something one could do to keep distance between them and the sidewalk.

Ah, neighbourhood mysteries. What neat stuff!