Wednesday, April 26, 2006


There is a house (garbage on Monday, recycling Wednesday) that Daniel, as a rule, does not linger by. He was accosted their once by a five year old girl in a pink bow. She demanded to know who the man in her mother’s bedroom was. Daniel panicked and fled, and now scurries past with only a nervous glance. There was little of interest anyway, the family confined themselves to small servings of wine.

On January twenty fifth, Daniel’s cursory examination revealed a sharp rise in the number and variety of alcohol bottles. He says that this new level was repeated two weeks later, and again after that.

This week, both garbage and recycling days marked a sharp change that demanded Daniel’s further attention, past experience not withstanding. The garbage had been reduced to almost nothing. Before, there had been a volume sufficient for three vigorous, not-overly waste conscious people. Now there seemed barely enough to sustain the life of one. The recycling consisted entirely of Wiser’s Black Label bottles and condiment jars.

Friday, April 21, 2006

It Begins

Well and truly it has begun. What we smilingly call Goods Exchange Day is well underway...a day early, of course. The Church on the corner has already had a fender bender (with words exchanged) caused by a man in a Chevy Astrovan who stopped short to ogle a stack of lawn chairs. Stack of chairs shown at left.

The Standard from Which we Deviate

Today for the first time we proudly and decorously hoist the International Trashspotting Coat of Arms.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

one-tonne nudel supe

Daniel loves to recount small scenes of upward mobility. The cars, he says, are the easiest way to tell. A venerable 1987 Chrysler is seen one week, a shiny 2002 Ford Taurus the next. SUV’s, although not popular here, frighten him and he says he can’t go down the streets that buy those ‘beemouths’.

On Tuesday, Daniel saw a small clear bag filled with cosmetics. The things a young girl would use, cherry lip gloss and sparkling eye liner. On Thursday, recycling day, he saw a dozen empty cartons. ‘Maybelline’ and ‘Covergirl.’ What makes them grow up so fast?

On the same day, three blocks down, Daniel finds a litter of beer bottles next to the bundled newspapers. He sees eight cans of Old Speckled Hen amongst the typical Coors Light. There are no strange cars in the driveway, no exotic items in the bins. No evidence to suggest a guest or foreign presence. Daniel is buoyed by the idea of Experimental Man as he loads the valuables on his back.

There is a family on a street with garbage pickups on Wednesday, and recycling pickups every second Thursday. Daniel tells me that they eat a lot of Kentucky Fried Chicken, and always in the meal-for-four format. This refuse day past the familiar chicken buckets are replaced with delicate Cantonese boxes and a handful of wooden chopsticks. The chopsticks are still joined at the base.

Monday, April 17, 2006

they call it Goods Exchange

This Saturday is Goods Exchange Day. It is permissable to place one's goods on the street Friday night. Many intrepid Exchangers will be prowling that evening, but the bulk will occur in the morning. There will be no bags, no bins, everything OUT IN THE OPEN for the curious eye.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

my what big teeth you have

This story is back-dated to April fifth of this year.

“Nah thiserns abit complicated…”

Indeed. He went on to tell a story spanning five months. Daniel is not a man of dates. Some attempt has been made to work backwards and establish a loose timeline. It is not perfect.

In December of 2005, in that narrow service window between Boxing Day and New Years, Daniel came upon joyous trappings. Common and unprofitable. There is a Molson Canadian bottle stuffed inside an empty paper cardboard box. The box refers to a ‘Habitrail’ artificial environment system.

The next three months at this address are uneventful. Daniel observes a steady stream of hamster products. Food bags, bedding. He says the brand never changed.

In March, likely the fourteenth, Daniel sees a blue box stuffed with wrapping paper. The paper is marked with cakes and candles, and there are no bottles underneath. There are however newspapers, wet and marked with canine excrement. Daniel is upset on recounting this, and a week passes before I can get him to talk again. I believe he is not only disgusted by what he encountered, but by the fact that these items are non- recyclable.

Daniel approaches the home a final time on April the fifth, on a refuse day. Beside the usual containers there is a ruined ‘Habitrail’ system, the plastic fractured and the frame bent out of all shape. There is a sizable bag of "8 in 1 Pet Gourmet Hamster & Gerbil Diet," half-full, topped with a small feeding dish and watering bottle.

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.