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.