Thursday, April 13, 2006

Rime of the Ancient Mariner

I live in a Canadian town with a population of about twenty five thousand. Officially, we have an estimated one hundred and fifty homeless people living here. For the last three years, with some regularity, I have worked in the Salvation Army soup kitchen, although I am not militant and I don't believe that anyone is saved in these places.

There is an old man who comes in from week to week named Daniel Webster. No one claims to have heard him called different. One of the women I work with says he has been coming in, off and on, for over seventeen years. Daniel doesn't drink, but he sometimes smokes marijuana in a fine wooden pipe. They say he made the pipe himself. I have never seen it.

He says that he 'Lives rand here' and always has. He is a touched man, though very sweet. He will only talk for a few minutes, after he finishes his food, before becoming agitated and beggin'yurpardon out the door.

He tells the most amazing stories about the trash, and particularly about the recycling. Daniel makes his living by carrying beer cans and bottles to the Beer Store for the nickel and dime deposits. He rides a tired Schwinn ten speed bicycle. Some people who have seen him leave all their empties in the ditches by their homes, but only on recycling day. Daniel is very efficient and the city collectors have not mentioned him.

I would like to tell some of his stories. He is alright with me 'tellin smfolk' and I believe he understood, if not 'the Internet' then at least that I may (or may not) tell many mfolk. His identity, such as it is, will remain his own quiet secret. This is an attempt to create, on behalf of Daniel, an anonymous Canadian TrashSpotting Chapter.


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