Charity Begins… in my Front Yard.

I’m just in after a discussion with one of the several Vietnamese ladies who take our returnable bottles to the depot. As far as I can tell, she’s the head of the cadre. Her English is the best, out of all of them. There are about five that I know of, and I listen for their carts so I can run out with the bottles and cans for them.

I always give to them, if I can. It’s a hard way to make money, trolling for empties. Especially considering that some of the others who also patrol on recycling day are large, mentally imbalanced men who will actually physically steal from them the bottles and cans these women have collected. The women are afraid to yell, except for the mentally challenged one. She gets them in trouble, as my early-risin’, compassion lackin’ neighbours don’t see why their sweet slumber should be interrupted by a small Vietnamese woman yelling her head off at a 200-lb white male who is trying to steal her living.

After one such fight, my landlady and I explained to the woman that she and her friends could leave as many empties as they could in the rhododendron and viburnum bushes at the front of our yard. It means I can’t do anything with that area, garden-wise, but I don’t mind. It’s just taken a lot of explaining for them to all understand that that’s a safe place for their stuff. After all, neither my landlady nor I speak Vietnamese and the cadre’s English isn’t so good. But tonight, I think the head bottle collector understands. So, soon the others will, as well.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s not just hubristic of me to want to give to this one set of people, and not to the others who come around. But then I remember the guy who dropped a Heineken bottle on the sidewalk during his collection rounds, and cycled off without doing anything about the shards of glass on the sidewalk. I’m going to take a flyer here, but I bet the cadre a) doesn’t drop bottles (They’re quieter going through bins than the men on bikes) and b) would stop to pick up the glass.

In any case, if these women are desperate enough to make a living that they’re willing to walk around at night and look through my trash, I’m going to do what I can to help them.

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