I used to see this guy across the street from work at this apartment building. He was always there on Wednesday at the same time so I always just assumed he was a worker or doing construction. The I noticed this guy was going through the garbage collecting the plastic bottles to make some cash.
I started collecting what bottles I could at work because we throw away a disgusting amount of plastic bottles. Coworkers noticed me collecting them and some were decent enough to contribute their bottles as well. I started taking these plastic bottles out to this guy and at first he was hesitant towards me and wouldn’t say much. He would point to the curb and I would just drop the bag and walk away. As time went by and I would take bags out to this guy I would take him cold water in the summer, an umbrella if it were raining or a hot coffee in the winter. We eventually would start talking and build a friendship.
This guy turned out to be one hell of a nice guy. I used to dread Wednesday, as it was my Monday at work. Then it started to be something I looked forward to it as I got to spend ten minutes with my new friend. Over time I learned he had two daughters and a sister and a brother and some cousins living here in New York. He’s from Mexico, works over by Penn Station and lives in Queens not too far from myself.
I always love talking to him because he’s always “good”. Ask him how his weekend was and he goes on about how he and his daughters hung out, ate pizza and went to the park. His Holidays were great, he spent time with his family drinking beers. Dude’s got a great sense of humor too. One time he lifted his hat and he had a hell of a knot on his forehead. “Is it bad?” he asked. Holy shit was it ever. Him and a guy were horsing around at work and the guy “got me pretty good”. Yes, yes he did. I gave him a bag of clothes one time and he asked me if it was OK if he shared it with people he knew that needed clothes as well. First off, he didn’t have to ask me if this was OK. Second, it’s so cool of him to share what little has been given to him.
Talking to my new friend really makes my day because he’s just a cool, fun and positive guy. He always says thank you, ask about my family or my weekend. He doesn’t have the easiest life but he is happy and always smiling. I find it totally fascinating that here I am talking to a guy that collects bottles from the garbage to make ends meet and we’re laughing and talking about how great life and our families are.
Then I turn towards a building where I work with people who make six figures a year that are the nastiest soul stealing people I ever met in my life. These people purposely throw away bottles that I have collected for my friend or toss in broken glass and garbage. Really? You make amazing money and you’re taking away from someone who already has almost next to nothing? The people that say their days off were too short. Holidays suck because they had to work. Complain that they don’t make enough money and yet they have every gadget that’s out on the market. Have beautiful homes and show pictures of the next car they are going to buy. Then throw away bottles that I’ve collected to help someone out? The sad thing is they have no remorse.
Writing this was difficult because I don’t want to offend my new friend in any way. I wrote this because I want to show my respect and admiration for a guy who goes out and does what he has to do to support him and his two daughters and not looking for handouts from people or the government. A guy that busts his ass to make a living in such a nonliving way and through it all has a smile on his face and is the happiest guy on Earth.
“Compassion is a universal medicine
for humanities ills”