The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

January 15, 2007

My Beer Can Baby


I posted about her Dec. 12, a Chinese woman I thought, who I see from time to time riding around on a bike with plastic bags hanging from the handle bars and the rear wheel, going into garbage bins and recycling containers.

Well today, after working all weekend, was a day off. And I was taking out my own recycling and there she was, perched precariously on the seat of her bike in -25 temps, leaning over the giant garbage bin, poking around with a long metal rod, searching.

I decided to approach her. I had worried, back with my original post, whether I should because I didn't want to hurt her pride or embarrass her or possibly scare her. But I called out "Hi" and she looked right at me and got down off her bike.

She had her white scarf wrapped around her face, as she had that day, which was not nearly so cold. Her face was brown and weathered, almost like leather. I couldn't see the smile on her mouth, but her eyes were smiling.

I asked her what it was she was looking for. She couldn't speak a word of English. She brought out from one of her plastic bags an empty can she had fished out. We drink plenty of pop at our place so I offered her all of the ones I was going to recycle.

She looked through them and shook her head, no. After a few minutes, I finally figured it out: she only takes beer cans, presumably so she can return them to the beer vendor for a refund of 10 cents a can or whatever.

I don't drink beer. I smiled and shrugged my shoulders. She smiled back, put her hand on her heart and shook my hand. I went back inside my apartment to get more recycling but when I came out again, she was already gone.

I wish I could have taken a closeup picture of her.

I still don't know why she chooses to do this or whether it's her only means of bringing money in. And I don't know what she does with the money she gets from these beer cans. But she sure has a nice smile.


  1. awww, ww, i love that you did this. you got a hand on her heart and a nice smile. not bad for a day's pleasure.

    you are an observer of the world, ww. that is one reason of many for my crush on you.


  2. WW matey u have a big heart and thats why I come here. HUGGGGGGGGGZ that was a lovely gesture towards her!


  3. Anonymous12:13 a.m.

    This was so touching.

    It reflects so much on your character.

    I can't help but say, you are one wonderful man.

    The love you have for your children, the intelligence and humor you maintain...and your good looks and charm.

    You are truly amazing!

  4. there's only one thing for it - you'll have to start drinking beer!
    Your a very sweet guy - are you sure you're not gay?

  5. Anonymous8:31 a.m.

    It was very nice of you to approach and try to find out what she was looking for. Some people won't even bother.

    So will you start drinking beer?

  6. Awww, I'm so glad you approached her. It's a shame she didn't speak any english, I would have loved to have heard a few of her stories. But it sounds like the two of you managed to find a common language anyway. Beautiful story, WW.

    And I'm so glad she didn't feel any shame.

  7. no mushiness from me.. we have already established you are a good person. MAybe she does it for pocket money, people are strange things.

    Ni how ni how ma.... Hello how are you in mandarin... It may help:)

  8. Anonymous5:33 p.m.



  9. KJ:

    Thanks, it was fun.

    I wonder if, like in the cartoons, she COULD speak fluent English and was just pullin' my chain?

    Did you just cut off your comment at the letter "i" or is that a new symbol for adios?


    Hugs back. But hey, this all about her, all 5-foot-nothing of her...she's an amazing human been.

    What determination...and to have alive eyes like that, it's a sight to see.


    So why am I still single?

    Just kidding. Thanks so much.

    But that's why I went to Arthur Murray Dance School and took all those How to Win Friends and Influence People classes.

    Just kidding on that too.

    You see someone over and over again, and you develop curiosity about them...

    I'm glad I talked (or tried) to her.



    Does Himself drink beer? Just have him ship all his empty cans to me, please.

    But yes, I do drink beer in the summer. I'll make sure to save all those cans for her.

    As far as whether I'm gay or not...I don't remember breaking any men's hearts, but you never know...



    I believe it was you who suggested back in December I gently approach her, so thanks...

    You have a lot of sensibilities that are similar to mine, for sure.

    I would have loved to have heard a few of her stories too...maybe at some future date.

    I'm also glad she felt no shame.



    Where did you pick up Mandarin? I'll try it. I've also got a Korean friend, maybe he can help...



  10. I remember reading your other post on her. That was really nice of you ... whatever her reasons for doing what she does, it can't be easy. Sometimes one person's connection can make all the difference.

    Was just reading all the comments ... you've got quite a fan club! ;-)

  11. I was hoping you'd post about her again! But as I was reading I kept expecting the punch line -- that she's really a guy. Your video choice set that one up for me! :)

  12. That's so sweet, WW.

  13. Menchie:

    Sorry, I forgot to respond to you! I guess I should start boppin' back some beer, huh?



    Well, we brought a smile to each other's days, anyway. And what do you mean, a fan club?

    Disclaimer: The proprietor of this site is not responsible for other people's comments.



    Hi girl! That's a brilliant idea! That's what I SHOULD have actually posted!

    Nah, I just happened to find that song and felt like playing it. No association intended, unfortunately...




  14. I-Saw-Ma Bin-Hoppin'
    would have been a much catchier title or how about
    Can Yu Dig It.

    I would expect no less from you than to hold out a helping hand to a small half-frozen Asian woman that you cornered while she was working..
    however did it ever occur to you that she may be having the time of her life...
    perhaps she feels like she hit the jackpot 'over here' and she thinks that WE're crazy for throwing away such insane amounts of crap.

    Whatever her reasons for dumpster diving I am certain that you made her day because 99% of people probably treat HER like garbage but you treated her like a human being.

    You're a good man Charlie Brown.

  15. Anonymous1:00 a.m.

    Dang, if I was single I'd soooo be up on you.

    Did I just post that?

    Just typing aloud.


  16. WW, you sweet gentle thang you! I love this about you. Here in "Vietnam in America" we have so many of the immigrants go through garbage to recycle items. I think some of them do it because as a practice they always recycled. Most of them are also older and on the "retired" age bracket. They do their walking exercises and then carry a grocery bag in case they find anything worth recycling. Most of them belong to middle class families.

  17. Homer Erectus:

    You may very well be right that she loves doing this, doesn't need to do it for sustenance...

    Maybe she's got $1 million sitting under her mattress at home, or maybe she just doesn't get North Americans' penchant for disposing of things of value.

    This all could be true. And the fact she didn't hiss at me like a cat or caw at me like a crow might support that.

    But it was still a cool thing and at the very least, maybe, is the uniting of two cultures.


    I'm awaiting, Awaiting (blushes).

    Just kidding. (Really, Jack).



    Ya know what, thanks for this. I think what you describe may very well be her situation, or not far from it.

    But to see her out in what must have been -30C with the windchill...I wondered what must be her motivation to be doing this in those conditions.

    Still, there was no look of desperation or anything, only happiness or serenity or something.

    It was cool.


  18. Anonymous12:01 p.m.

    She seems to be happy in her own little world.

    but then who knows?

  19. i was in china for a few weeks... that is the grand total of what i remember.

  20. Anonymous10:00 a.m.

    what a cool encounter w.w.!
    maybe you should make up your own story about who she is and where she goes and what she does with the cans...

  21. Anonymous2:20 p.m. are a good man. A very good man with a big heart.


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