I was taking out the garbage and noticed a man looking through our dumpster. I knew what he was looking for, bottles. He held the dumpster lid open for me to dump our empty Lego boxes, pizza boxes and bag full of waste. That was actually full of ‘a waste.’ He looked like a gentle man. I had asked him if he would like more bottles (hoping not to offend him). He said, “Oh I would really appreciate that.” I told him that I had three bags for him and that I’d be right back. On my journey to my backyard I thought about my Dad. This man reminded me of Dad. Dad used to collect bottles from dumpsters. He wasn’t homeless. He did it for extra cash or to buy cigarettes. It brought me to wonder what kind of life does this man have? Where does he live? Does he have a home? I hope I’m not contributing to an addiction, if he has one. Not to judge. Who am I to judge?
I picked up my bags of bottles and made my way back to the dumpster. I plopped them down in front of him. His eyes looked down and widened. He brought his eyes up to me, “I thought they were just bottles in Safeway bags, you know those small bags.” I gave him the once over and noticed his eyes. His eyes were a very bright light blue, they looked friendly. You could tell he hadn’t shaved in a few days due to the grey scruff growing on his face (could he not afford a razor? Maybe he can now. Or maybe he just wanted to protect his face from the cold). He was dressed in a nice pair of clean jeans, no rips or stains. His feet wore winter boots, which looked like sturdy hiking boots. On his head he wore a toque with flaps to protect his ears from the cold. A dark blue sweater peeked out from underneath his winter coat.
The bags I had given him were the size of garbage bags. I immediately asked him, “oh is this OK?” Maybe he couldn’t carry all of them? He smiled a toothless smile, “oh yes. I can just tie them together and throw them over my shoulder. This is very kind of you. Thank you! Now I am done for the day!” Maybe this was a constant part of his life? A job in a way. It helped to pay for his food or what have you. Maybe I had made this man’s day a little easier. He didn’t have to stay out in the cold anymore.
Pay it forward. Even if it’s just giving away bottles.