Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Empathetic Solidarity

I always keep a bag on the side to collect cans and bottles of value to give to people laboring after them on the streets. Some of what I collect is from my own consumption, but much of it I gather from my building's recycling bins in the basement every time I go downstairs to dump the remaining recyclables that aren't of street value. It's easier to do when the bags in the bin aren't completely commingled and full, but these people have not the anytime access to the bins that I do. It doesn't take a lot out of my time and it makes me feel a little more connected with the fact that though I complain about my meager income driving a cab, much of the world's population labors many more hours than even I do, for much less compensation, and with many more mouths to feed. I got the picture from this article, which I understand and agree with on one hand, but being innovative and a lynchpin doesn't always guarantee financial comfort.

People often approach me with the same mentality as the author of this article, asking me "what I'd like to do when I grow up?" If my answer's anthropology, they say I need school. What better school than taxi driving, nitwit? My other answers include writer, artist, farmer, tour guide, paramedic, ambulance driver, etc.. "In that order?," they ask while laughing. It's not ridiculous to have many different pursuits in life, so don't ridicule me. Instead, why don't you try shifting your whole paradigm and look at it from a standpoint of appreciation for people's hard work, regardless of how 'entrepreneurial' they may be in your eyes, especially if their work is an important one that helps keep society (or the world in general) in balance, or at least moving?

New York runs on cabs and needs competent cabbies, or am I wrong? Perhaps I am wrong after all. That is why I'll soon be joining the exodus of bright minds from this industry. Back to the subject of recycling. We need to recycle our rubbish or else face a non-sustainable future, right? So instead of labeling these people as lazy or not resourceful, why not support their efforts to eke out a living by making it a little easier for them? I encourage you to start having a bag set aside for cans and bottles of value to them. You can tell by looking on the can or bottle itself. In New York, for example, it must say 'NY' and the value in cents.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9/14/2013

    Hi Gil,
    I keep deposit bottles and cans in a separate bag for exactly this purpose. While bagging up 3 trash bags full of water bottles, I tried to imagine how much effort goes into collecting all those bottles and cans from the streets. I can never think that people who do this are lazy, as I hear them sometimes at 5 and 6am... I usually cannot wake up that early, even if it meant going to a really great job! While I usually don't pity the people, I give them credit for being industrious and more motivated that I am on a regular day! And I always keep in mind, that they are human and deserve respect. Anyone can end up in a difficult circumstance. Some things are in our control, and many things are not. Thanks again for posting this, Gil.
    Ann Marie


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