I'm the one with the plastic grocery bag hanging off my wrist if you ever catch me cruising around on my bicycle. Since I'm already out and about getting my exercise, I figure why not clean up my neighborhood and make a few bucks while I'm at it by picking up all the cans and bottles I see? I save 'em up for a few weeks then make a trip out to my local recycling center, whereafter I spend the money I make on a nice dinner. By "nice" I don't mean fancy-schmancy; I mean something more along the lines of a nice, big plate of German food, like the kind they serve at Tip Top Meats in Carlsbad. Mastication doesn't get much better than that, I tell ya.

The recycling centers are usually lined up with people who are, quite frankly, piss-poor. And then there's me, the entrepreneur, as I like to call myself, killing two birds with one stone by cleaning up my neighborhood and getting free cash-ola. Granted, I don't need the money as much as some of the other recyclers, but it's free! Who wouldn't want free money? Takes no effort at all to do what I do. I'm already tooling around on my bike, so when I spy a can or bottle looking all lonely and homeless, I'll put it into my empty, soon-to-be-full grocery bag, and continue cruising. People are such slobs that I usually come home with a nice booty.

Once in a while I'll come home emptyhanded but I know it's not because all the beer drinkers, soda drinkers, and bottled water drinkers suddenly decided to stop being pigs. I see so much general trash strewn about that I know that is not the case. Instead, I know that if I find no recyclables it's only because my competition has gotten the jump on me. Curses! Hate when that happens. Like I said, it's not that I need the money I get from recycling; it's just that it's become a game with me. I try to beat each previous bounty.

Occasionally the national news will run a story about someone who was cunning enough to garner a million dollars from recycling. The last guy I read about who did that had made the news, posthumously, about five years back. He was a normal guy with a good career but he lived like a pauper. His friends knew that he turned in discarded bottles and cans for money, but they had no idea that he was so proficient at it nor that he invested the money so wisely that he was, in reality, very wealthy. Not until he died and bequeathed a million dollars to his alma mater did they find out.

I wouldn't mind making a cool mill' just from recycling, but there's no way I'd hoard all that money just to bequeath it. Honestly, I am astounded in the first place that anyone has been able to do that. Yeah, that guy recycled for decades, invested the money he made, and the interest compounded. Sure, sure. Easier said than done. I doubt it would happen for me. But, and this is a pretty big “but”, if I ever were to manage to turn my recycling lucre into a million bucks, I'd spend it on myself, not give it away after I die. I mean, come on, give me a break. Purposely live like a pauper while sitting on a million bucks? Who does that?

I'll tell you who doesn’t: the people who line up at the recycling centers with their loads of filthy cans and bottles, hoping to make enough money to feed themselves the next few days. I remember back in the '80s when my friends and I used to spend every weekend hanging out at Mission Beach. I'll never forget the one day that screeching yells brought our fun in the sun to a halt. What was all the unintellegible arguing about? The whole group of us turned to see an immigrant man and woman fighting over a trash bag full of cans. They didn't speak English and their ethnicities were so similar that at first we thought they were just a married couple having a fight. But they were each holding onto that bag of cans and were trying to walk in opposite directions with it. Obviously they must not have been married to each other. Most likely the true owner of that bag of cans had set it down for a moment, when the other person tried to snatch it. After all, it was like aluminum gold to them.

It was insane the spectacle they were making in public; we couldn't help but laugh. A part of me felt a little sorry for them, though. Cans are a big money maker. Don't know what the going-rate was in the '80s, but currently they're paying over a dollar-fifty a pound. So could you all do me a favor? Drink 'em if you've got 'em and leave the empties out by the curb. I'll be by in a jiffy.Image


beermonkey June 9, 2009 @ 10:33 p.m.

Yeah, this one's a hit. It's makes me wanna read more of it. This one flows like good fiction. Like if I didn't know you, I'd think you were making it up. You could use it as a set-up for all kinds of crazy. I think you should do that. Make some stuff up about wacky characters and put in more references to places people know.

And of course I gotta love your reference old school MB. Your insights and observations about $ and how different people handle it differently make this quite pertinent for the times.


Sign in to comment

Let’s Be Friends

Subscribe for local event alerts, concerts tickets, promotions and more from the San Diego Reader